Churches lend helping hand during holidays
Jamestown churches and civic groups are in the thick of Thanksgiving preparations, as plans go forward to share the holiday with loved ones and remember people in need.
At St. Mark Church, the Rev. William O’Neill said people still have time to ask for a basket. Sometimes people are proud, he said, but if they need assistance, they should call the church and ask to add their names to the list.
“Give us a call, and we can help you out,” said O’Neill, whose parish can be reached at 423-1421.
Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for the blessings we have received and share them with the less fortunate, he said. But we should be thankful every day, he added: Thanksgiving is one meaning of the Eucharist.
The Rotary Club and St. Mark’s food pantry have teamed up to prepare the Thanksgiving baskets. The club provides the turkey and the fixings, and everything people need for the main dinner, and the church adds canned goods and extras, including items like tuna fish and pasta that would help people out for a few days after the holiday.
Kathy Brownell, chairwoman of the church’s outreach committee, said the ladies do the shopping at McQuade’s Market. This year, the Rotary Club donated 20 baskets. The Cub Scouts added four baskets, and the school bus drivers chipped in for one basket. In ad- dition, the children at Our Lady of Mercy School in East Greenwich gave the church three turkey baskets.
Besides the 25 or so baskets the church has collected, 15 more will be distributed by the Salvation Army, Brownell said. Maggie Grenier, Jamestown’s welfare officer, organizes the effort.
People come to the church and pick up the baskets, and Brownell says she can’t remember how long the church and Rotary Club have been teaming up. However, she says it’s been long enough to qualify as a tradition.
Jamestowners are generous, O’Neill added. “The scouts just had a drive last weekend,” he said.
Also, the local mail carriers collected food recently, too. Usually, the church has a Thanksgiving surplus, and the overflow donations go to the food pantry in East Providence.
Up the street at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, the Rev. Kevin Lloyd said his ministry will extend the charitable effort through the entire weekend.
One parishioner, who has expertise in stained glass, has organized a craft fair that will be held in the parish hall on Saturday. The proceeds will go to the Episcopal Relief and Development fund and will be used to help the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines, he said.
Closer to home, the parishioners give donations and canned goods to the Jonnycake Center in Peace Dale. The center has a food pantry that helps the needy with meals.
The Sunday school kids really support the Thanksgiving food drive, Lloyd said. The parish takes up collections for the Jonnycake Center, but at this time of year, the children’s “homework” assignment is to make sure the adults bring a food donation to church every week.
Lloyd will miss service on Sunday after Thanksgiving. He is going home to see his family. The Rev. Gary Limery, a Jamestown resident and retired Episcopal priest, will preside at Sunday services.
“We will include Thanksgiving related hymns and readings,” he said.
At Central Baptist Church, the Rev. Kathryn Palen will continue a tradition of participating the night before the holiday in an interfaith ceremony at Temple Shalom in Middletown. The service starts at 7:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome. People bring canned goods to help the needy, Palen said, and others give an offering to the emergency fund that helps people pay for medical bills or utilities.
Palen has helped lead the service for the seven years she has been at Central Baptist, but she said Temple Shalom started the service 39 years ago.
This year, though, the celebration will be special because this is also the first night of Hanukkah, she said.
At the interfaith service, pastoral messages usually focus on giving thanks for all the blessings we have, she said. However, this year there will also be special thanks for Hanukkah and the reclaiming of the Temple of Jerusalem, which had been in the hands of Syrian Greeks. The festival starts at sunset.
Central Baptist Church does not hold a Thanksgiving service, but on Sunday, her sermon will discuss giving thanks. This Sunday, the feast of Christ the King, is the last week of the liturgical year and is a convenient time to reflect on “images that offer us inspiration and reason to be thankful,” Palen said.