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‘Give back to those less fortunate’: Church offers free Thanksgiving meal

SALISBURY — Plates filled with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, rolls and cranberry sauce were served up for those less fortunate at Providence Baptist Church on Thanksgiving Day.

Members of the church loaded to-go boxes and delivered them to those in need or served anyone who dropped by the church, at 620 Andrew St., to enjoy a full and free Thanksgiving lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m Thursday.

Every year, the free Thanksgiving lunch feeds about 200 people, Pastor Sy Ponds said. Of those, about 60% get their meal delivered. Ponds said the church will give to anyone in need. The giveaway began in 2006.

“The Lord has blessed us, and we want to give back to those less fortunate,” Ponds said.

Ponds said it is not about the number of people the church helps, and he hopes one day no one will be in need.

Glenda Fitzgerald, a church member, said Providence Baptist is a wonderful and giving church. The meal to her is a way to help others, especially after someone helped her when she was in need.

As a young single mother of three, Fitzgerald didn’t have much money. One day, her kids were hungry and all she has was one box of crackers. Her mother-in-law told Fitzgerald she would feed them.

Fitzgerald said it means something to see people fed. She saw a young woman who, like herself years ago, was enjoying a meal at the church.

“It gives me a wonderful feeling to help people,” she said.

She said it is a blessing to her to ensure one person is fed.

While she stayed at the church Thursday, her husband, Roderick Fitzgerald, helped deliver meals.

John Wayne Hardison, a member of the church for four years, did a little bit of everything, packaging meals to be delivered or loading spoonfuls of mashed potatoes and gravy onto plates while cracking jokes.

“It’s one of the things we’re called to do as Christians,” Hardison said, explaining why he has made volunteering on Thanksgiving a tradition.

Hardison said he has been blessed and wants to do anything for those who are less fortunate.

“With the state the world is in, it’s good to see people willing to help each other,” he said.

Freddie Garrett bounced around the church helping wherever he was needed, whether it was stirring green beans on the stove or packaging meals. He said it’s a blessing to provide someone a Thanksgiving meal.

“We get to help people who can’t help themselves,” Garrett said.

Ponds said the church always has a good turnout of help among church members. Some cook turkeys or vegetables and others offer to deliver the meals.

He said it’s only by the grace of God that they could be on the other end.

Mary Parker, a church member and Pond’s sister, brought two turkeys and 20 pounds of mashed potatoes. She wanted to give back to others.

“Hopefully, we can help someone come to God through this,” Parker said.

Other Rowan County churches that offered free Thanksgiving meals included The Reach Church in Salisbury, True Holiness Church of God in Kannapolis and Love Christian Center in East Spencer.

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