South Carolina Grand Lodge serves up free Thanksgiving meal in North Charleston

Mark Docherty serves dinner to Tina Clark, of Mount Pleasant, on Thursday during the South Carolina Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons 7th annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Buy this photo

People trickled in on Thursday to the Felix Davis Community Center, where the South Carolina Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons served up a large spread for Thanksgiving.

After a hiatus of holding the event for the last few years, the group decided to return to the tradition of providing free meals to those in the community. Not as many people showed up as expected, but it was still worth it for Rashad Muhammad, the lodge’s Grand Master and organizer of the event.

“We still did well,” he said. “People came back and took to-go boxes and were able to eat and share.” For Muhammad it’s not about the quantity of people, but the quality of the event. “It was a good atmosphere. People here were happy,” he said. “Some people don’t have family and want to have a warm place to spend Thanksgiving. Some people want some company. We try to facilitate that.”

There was plenty of food to choose from including three types of turkey, gravy, macaroni and cheese, fried rice, green bean casserole and plenty of desserts.

For Denise Cromwell, one of the volunteers serving food, it was about making people feel welcome. She said at the beginning of the meal at around 11 a.m. a homeless man expressed surprise when she held his hand during the prayer. Cromwell said she relates to those in need.

“I used to be on the other side of this as a kid,” she said. Daughter to a single mother growing up in Hollywood, she remembers how tough things were during Thanksgiving while growing up. Since the holiday falls at the end of the month, by the time Thanksgiving arrived, their food stamps typically had dwindled down, she said.

“We always relied on people giving us food,” she said. It’s something she said she was grateful for, which is why she made sure to help serve the meal at the Mason’s event. The tradition will continue next year for the lodge, which plans to return with even greater force, according to Muhammed.

“I think next year will be even grander,” he said.

Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.

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