L.A.M.P. Ministries 14th annual Thanksgiving dinner
When: 11 a.m. today
Where: 839 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville
More info: lampministryga.com
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that, even in Hall County, not everyone has a home for the holidays.
Many local charities are doing what they can to help the homeless adults, children and veterans in the Northeast Georgia area as the season for giving sets in. One local organization, Latin American Missionary Program Ministries, is making sure the most vulnerable members of the community still experience some holiday cheer with its 14th annual Thanksgiving dinner.
The Hall County-based organization, which focuses on helping homeless or at-risk youth, will have turkey, dressing, desserts and more available at 11 a.m. today. While anyone is welcome to attend the meal at 839 Jesse Jewell Parkway, L.A.M.P. focuses its annual dinner on feeding the homeless.
L.A.M.P. Executive Director Mary Mauricio said the event has grown in the 14 years the nonprofit has been organizing it.
“(The first annual Thanksgiving dinner) started with 100 (participants), and then it went up a little bit more through the years,” Mauricio said. “Last year, we (served) over 300.”
Mauricio and L.A.M.P.’s volunteers head to the homeless community underneath the Queens City Parkway bridge and several tent cities around Gainesville to offer invitations. But most participants hear about the event through word of mouth. People come from far and wide to partake in the dinner, including some from as far as Jackson, Lumpkin, White and even Gwinnett counties.
Despite the glittering consumerism that some identify with the holidays, Mauricio maintains this can be the hardest time of year for individuals down on their luck.
“There’s a lot of people that they’ve lost their jobs, or maybe because of illness,” Mauricio said. “They have children, and they won’t pay anything. It’s just a good way of helping them not to do without a Thanksgiving meal.”
L.A.M.P. Ministries will hand out clothes, including coats and blankets. They also will distribute “veterans boxes,” full of nonperishable items for former troops in need.
The event begins at 11 a.m. and will last until all the food has been consumed. Food will be served by volunteers from several organizations including the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Mauricio said the event would not be possible without the wealth of volunteers and the generous donations from several local organizations. Americans Helping Americans, a national organization dedicated to community improvement, donated 200 turkeys to be distributed and consumed. Members of Corinth Baptist Church on Thompson Bridge Road donated their time to cook the turkeys.
“I just think it’s important that we just be a conduit of God’s blessings to other people,” Corinth Baptist Church minister Chris Swan said of the church’s decision to help. “I think Jesus said in Luke 14, don’t invite people to a banquet that can invite you back. Invite people who can’t repay you. It’s just us being a blessing to people because they’re here.”
For more info, visit lampministryga.com.