WILKES-BARRE – The Rev. Diane Smith smiled broadly on Saturday afternoon as she greeted diners coming to the 10th annual Food for the Soul Ministries Thanksgiving dinner at the First Baptist Church on River Street.
Smith, whose original ministry was in New York City, said the mission of the ministry and the church is not limited to Sunday gatherings, but extends to meeting the needs of the community in the long term.
As the economy continues to challenge local residents, that need grows. More than 350 people were expected to take part in Saturday's meal.
Members of the church and of the community have been diligent in their commitment to the annual meal and have continued to donate money, time and food, making the effort a complete success.
Come on in and God bless you, said Smith, knowing many of the people by name.
The Rev. Shawn Walker, pastor at First Baptist, lauded Smith's efforts in putting the dinner together. He said she worked incredibly hard and long in insuring that everything got done well.
Her efforts, and those of many volunteers, were richly blessed. Those attending enjoyed ham, turkey, stuffing, a variety of vegetables and homemade dessert. They enjoyed both the food and the fellowship the day provided.
These are good people at this church and they show love, said Jim, a homeless gentleman from Wilkes-Barre.
Leonard and Denise Evans, Kingston, volunteered at the event, saying they enjoyed it as much as the attendees.
I can definitely sleep better at night if I know that I have somehow served, said Leonard Evans.
Wilkes University's Christian Fellowship Club provided volunteers, who helped in greeting guests and cooking.
It's a pleasure to be able to help people from local churches, said Julie Engebrecht, a pre-pharmacy student at Wilkes.
Walker said that the church also offers a meal to members of the community on Monday nights.
Those interested in assistance or who want to donate can contact church staff at 822-7482.