While Gene Beckstein recovered from surgery, volunteers carried out his Thanksgiving Day tradition of feeding hundreds of hungry mouths.
The Good News at Noon founder “Mr. B” had gastrointestinal blockage and couldn’t eat food for several days, so doctors decided to move him to an operating table the Friday before Thanksgiving.
“By Saturday morning, he was eating Jell-O and clear liquids,” Good News at Noon Director Ed Grant told a crowd of volunteers Thursday morning. “I went to see him last night, and he wasn’t there.”
Beckstein was discharged from Northeast Georgia Medical Center on Wednesday and is now recovering at New Horizons North nursing home before heading home in a few days.
“We wish he could be here, but he must regain his strength,” Grant told the group. “We look for his return so we can show what the community has done through his ministry here. This is truly a day of thanksgiving for Good News.”
More than 150 volunteers showed up to feed more than 300. Grant said he expected to feed more people this year as the economy continues to touch more families than ever before.
“A lot of middle- and upper-class people are experiencing the crunch of the economy, and we’re seeing people who haven’t experienced the need that a lot of the homeless have,” he said. “Moms and dads are losing their homes and the means to sustain a family. We’ve helped more people in that light than in the past.”
When a few volunteers were worried about the rainy weather, Ellen “Ma” Rogers knew drizzle wouldn’t keep appetites away.
“This is a good day to be here. You feel like you’re floating around,” said Rogers, who has directed the kitchen on Thanksgiving for more than a decade. “Four of us come in and cook these meals, and it’s really nice to be on the giving end.”
Grant compared Good News’ Thanksgiving tradition to the Bible passage where a boy shares his lunch with the crowd.
“They gathered up all that was left over and saw that everyone was filled,” he said. “People in the community respond with that giving spirit at this time of year and give of their excess to those who don’t have anything.”
Though Beckstein isn’t around to spread holiday cheer, Rogers knew the holiday meal would go off without a hitch.
“It seems different without him here, but when he steps back, someone else steps up, like Mr. Grant,” she said. “Everything works out. God doesn’t say everything will always be good, but he does say he’ll be with you in the bad times.”