By MADDY VITALE
Brett Bailey, of Ocean City, pushed her shopping cart down the sidewalk outside of St. Peter’s United Methodist Church on Wednesday afternoon.
And in that cart was a bag filled with a piece of turkey, pie, soup and potato chips.
“It’s nice,” said Bailey, who lives in one of the rooming homes in the resort. “It really helps. It really is God’s blessing.”
Bailey stopped by God’s Kitchen, an organization based at St. Peter’s that provides food for those in need.
Volunteers Kathy Thompson and Andy Martin, along with Jen Bowman, who is in charge of St. Peter’s food ministry, and Pastor Eric Hall, were busy handing bagged meals for Thanksgiving to the people who stopped by.
Dave Boston, another Ocean City resident, thanked the volunteers, chatted a bit and smiled as he took his turkey dinner with all of the trimmings.
On a typical year, God’s Kitchen provides about 45 meals to people during Thanksgiving. But this year, 65 meals were given out.
Martin explained his thoughts about the increase in need. “There’s a pandemic,” he noted. “There are no jobs, so people need help more than ever.”
God’s Kitchen was one of a few ways those in need received holiday meals.
And without the partnership with OCNJ CARE, a non-profit organization that raises funds, identifies those in need and delivers aid where needed in the community, it would be difficult – if not impossible, volunteers said.
OCNJ CARE, with Drew Fasy as the chairman, funded the Thanksgiving meals.
Fasy said in an interview Tuesday that OCNJ CARE was elated to offer help.
“We thought the dinner was something we didn’t want to let go by the wayside,” Fasy said. “The meal is one thing, and at its core we felt compelled to be involved.”
Each year St. John Lutheran Church does Thanksgiving dinner but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the sit-down meal was canceled. St. Peter’s United Methodist Church traditionally does a community Christmas dinner.
Like the Thanksgiving meal, the Christmas dinner, with planning in the works, will also be provided via takeout and delivery, Bowman and Fasy said.
A host of volunteers were upstairs in the kitchen at the church doing last-minute preparations to the dinners to be delivered by the Ocean City High School Key Club to 30 shut-ins who are members of the church and residents from Wesley by the Bay.
Vanessa Karayiannis, president of the Key Club, said when Bowman and Fasy reached out to the Key Club to help deliver the meals, the club “instantly jumped on the opportunity.”
“Our members made beautiful cards with holiday messages to include with the meals, which we hope made the residents day just a little bit brighter,” she said.
Karayiannis added, “It was also amazing to see our members join together to hand out Thanksgiving meals to the residents. In spite of the ongoing pandemic, it is so rewarding to see our community join together to help others in need and make their day just a little bit brighter.”
In all, about 20 turkeys were prepared by the volunteers for a total of about 175 dinners.
Bowman and the other volunteers, including Scott Chaffin, a St. Peter’s employee, boxed up the meals for delivery by the Key Club.
Students from the Ocean City Intermediate School also got involved. “They brought over two truckloads of food,” Bowman said.
“It was amazing because really it was just about five of us who organized this. The Key Club and OCNJ Care really helped. Everyone came together,” Bowman said.