By MADDY VITALE
In a showing of community spirit, Ocean City organizations are making sure that despite the cancelation of dinners traditionally provided to families in need over Thanksgiving, special holiday meals will be provided.
And those who are used to fellowship and friendship at the dinners year after year will know, that even though they can’t all be assembled for the feast due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are cared for and loved by the community, said organizers of the dinner.
St. John Lutheran Church always does Thanksgiving dinner. St. Peters United Methodist Church does Christmas dinner. For both meals, people will either receive takeout or delivery packages from members of the Ocean City High School Key Club. And OCNJ CARE is funding the meals.
While plans are still in the works for the Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving meals are being prepared Wednesday. Desserts were being made on Monday, explained Jen Bowman, who is in charge of St. Peters food ministry.
She said that so far, everything has worked out wonderfully and there has been such an outpouring of support.
“The need is so great that donations are needed and whatever people can give is greatly appreciated,” Bowman said.
She continued, “I feel like a community conductor orchestrating donations.”
More than 150 dinners will be made for deliveries. Social distancing will be strictly adhered to and the meals will be hung on recipients’ doors, Bowman said.
On Wednesday, at 1 p.m. some members of the high school Key Club will bring the meals to people’s homes, Bowman said.
The deliveries will be to locations including Wesley by the Bay and shut-ins.
“God’s Kitchen will provide takeout meals outside of St. Pete’s Church on Wednesday on a first come, first serve basis,” Bowman explained.
Bowman noted that Mayor Jay Gillian wanted to make sure that these two holiday, community dinner events still took place in a safe manner to help those in need.
Drew Fasy, chairman of OCNJ CARE, a non-profit organization that raises funds, identifies those in need and delivers aid where needed in the community, said of the Thanksgiving dinners and partnership between his organization and the churches, “I think it is a great thing. I know St. John traditionally did a Thanksgiving dinner and they couldn’t do it this year because of a lack of gathering.”
He continued, “We thought the dinner was something we didn’t want to let go by the wayside. The meal is one thing and at its core we felt compelled to be involved.”
St. Peters Church houses the food cupboard.
Both Bowman and Fasy emphasized, it isn’t just about a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
“The other piece of it is the care and the connection people need during the holidays and the pandemic,” Fasy said. “We wanted to make sure people knew other people care.”
He added that OCNJ CARE has been collecting canned goods and dry goods for several months.
“If anyone is in need now or during the holidays, we can anonymously deliver the groceries,” Fasy pointed out.
Fasy noted that a sizable donation of $2,000 will be provided to OCNJ CARE to help with the payment for the food from the Ocean City Yacht Club.
In addition to meals, Bowman said that the organizers hope is to provide Thanksgiving cards to all of the recipients.
Siblings Taj and Madison Keenan, of Ocean City made holiday cards for some people who will receiving dinners. The high school Key Club as well as the Upper Township Sunshine Elementary School Club is also making cards.
“If anybody else wants to make Thanksgiving cards we will absolutely get them to people who need them. They can drop them off at St. Peters daily,” Bowman noted. “If you would like to make them for Christmas as well then we gladly accept find recipients for them.”