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Several organizations providing Thanksgiving meals
Groups team up for people in need on holiday
Volunteer Kyle Opfer unloads a box of turkeys Tuesday for the Good News at Noon Thanksgiving dinner. - photo by Tom Reed

Thanksgiving dinners for those in need

Project JOY
When: Noon to 2 p.m. Thursday
Where: 621 Lakeshore Drive, Gainesville

The Blue Cow
When: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: 6031 Main St., Lula

Good News at Noon
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: 979 Davis St., Gainesville

The John Paul II Center
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: 177 Atlanta Highway, Gainesville

Several organizations around Hall County are making sure there isn’t one person in the community who goes without food or fellowship this Thanksgiving.

Project JOY, Meals on Wheels, Good News at Noon, Under the Bridge Ministries, The Blue Cow eatery and The John Paul II Center have made plans to cook turkey and all the fixings for anyone in the community who may not already have a meal to eat or people to dine with.

“This is a time for all of us to get together,” said Rose Moon, who started Project JOY (Jesus, Ours, & Yours) after responding to her pastor’s challenge to “do something radical” for Christ.

“The theory is that this isn’t a soup kitchen. It’s for people who are alone and want to enjoy a meal with someone. We try to reach a wide variety (of people) together.”

Moon and others at Project JOY will be serving their meals on Thursday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 621 Lakeshore Drive in Gainesville. Along with the meals, Project JOY will be giving away blankets, and children will be able to participate in activities and receive goody bags.

Meals on Wheels and Under the Bridge Ministries have teamed up with Project JOY to assist in providing and serving food, along with initiatives each organization has taken separately.

On Saturday, Under the Bridge Ministries passed out 7,000 Thanksgiving meals at various locations in Hall County, something founder Jason Ladd was thankful for.

“It was amazing. We were really blessed,” said Ladd.

The ministry will also be sending volunteers to help Project JOY prepare for the 1,000 meals it hopes to serve.

Milon Christman, coordinator for Gainesville-Hall County Meals on Wheels, said his organization gets increasingly busy throughout the holidays. After having already delivered more than 200 frozen Thanksgiving meals to homebound residents last week, Christman said the organization was planning on delivering 250 hot meals on Tuesday and referring the names and addresses of approximately 100 more people in need of meals to Project JOY, which will send volunteers to deliver the meals.

“The week of Thanksgiving is our most intense week because we serve our normal number and then some,” said Christman. “We want every one of our clients, who are like family to us, to have as close to a traditional Thanksgiving as anyone could hope for.”

The Blue Cow, a bakery and deli in Lula, is now in its sixth year of providing meals to the community for Thanksgiving. Although owners Tim and Harriett Williams typically host around 300 people for Thanksgiving lunch, they expect the number to be higher this year.

“We’re probably expecting a little more this year because of the economy,” according to Tim Williams.

Regardless of the turnout, The Blue Cow makes sure no food goes to waste. Any leftover meals will be delivered by volunteers to employees at local businesses who will be working the holiday.

“We just want to be a blessing to other people,” said Williams, who added the hope is for The Blue Cow to be as much of a ministry to others as it is a business. “It’s a time to come out and spend time with other people who may not have any other family. It’s a time of fellowship.”

The Blue Cow will be serving meals Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 6031 Main St. in Lula.

Good News at Noon will be hosting a Thanksgiving lunch and distributing winter clothes for children and adults Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 979 Davis St. in Gainesville.

Good News at Noon General Manager Thomas Ramirez said everyone is invited to show up and volunteer to help organize clothing, serve meals or just eat.

“There’s plenty to do. Even if people want to come and have a couple minute conversation at the table, saying hello, it means a lot to people and makes a big difference,” said Ramirez.

Meals will also be served at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at The John Paul II Center at 177 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville.

The center expects around 600 people to show up to volunteer and eat, all done in “the spirit of Thanksgiving.”

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