A favorite Thanksgiving Day memory for Pastor Gordon Cashwell is a line of 200 people waiting to unload chairs to serve a meal to the needy in Hampton Park.
"It was a stark contrast to the lines of people that we see on the next day, Black Friday, waiting to spend money," said Cashwell of Without Walls Ministry. "I was very excited to see lines of people to help somebody. Everybody wanted something to do. Tears came to my eyes."
Hundreds of volunteers will cook meals in their homes, deliver fliers in the neighborhood and serve 500 to 600 people in the park again this Thanksgiving, Cashwell said.
The volunteer spirit will be on display in an even bigger way at the Charleston Area Convention Center. Hundreds of volunteers will pour into Exhibit Hall C on Tuesday morning to unpack crates of food, assemble meals and deliver them to 2,500 households throughout the Lowcountry. It will be the biggest service project yet for the Charleston Basket Brigade, now in its fourth year.
"It's a grass-roots community effort by everyday citizens who want to do good in this community," said Pam Hartley of Momentum Marketing, who is publicizing the event.
The city of North Charleston is donating 25,000 square feet of space in the convention center. Communities in Schools identifies needy families in the Lowcountry.
Carolina One has been taking the lead in fundraising, pushing the $75,000 goal among its 800 employees. Several companies, including Benefitfocus and Scientific Research Co., have made the project a fundraising priority. Several dozen businesses have been taking donations at "Change for Change" displays. Piggly Wiggly is donating hundreds of boxes, as well as $10,000.
"We're getting calls from people I call angels every day," Hartley said. "People in this community will rise to the occasion."
California Dreaming is supporting another big project. The restaurant staff will cook and serve a Thanksgiving meal for 500-600 people Monday at Tricounty Family Ministries on Rivers Avenue, said Executive Director Sue Hanshaw. The restaurant also will serve dinner to five needy families who win a raffle that day.
Pearlstine Distributors is donating the food for a Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday for 275 families served by Johns Island Rural Mission, Director Linda Gadson said. Families fill out applications showing need for the meals.
Christ Church is coordinating a Thanksgiving Day effort for East Cooper Meals on Wheels. Volunteers will arrive at 7 a.m. to start assembling 1,000 meals for 280 homebound households, said Lisa Cottingham, vice president of community development. The ministry has enough volunteers for Thanksgiving Day but needs drivers throughout the year, she said.
In downtown Charleston, Crisis Ministries plans to serve about 250 people Thanksgiving Day.
Neighborhood House on America Street, a ministry of Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach Services, is preparing for about 150 people on Wednesday.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.
Here are some of the major efforts around the Lowcountry to feed the needy for Thanksgiving.
What: Area churches will host the West Ashley Feeding of the Multitudes, which will provide those attending with a free meal, entertainment and prayer.
When: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Forest Park Playground, 728 West Oak Forest Drive.
More Info: 200-4299.
What: More than 30 faith groups will join forces on Johns Island for the fourth annual Feeding the Multitude event. More than 1,000 volunteers prepare and distribute traditional Thanksgiving fare. Transportation will be provided, and food will be delivered to shut-ins. Gospel music, praise teams and fiesta dancing are planned.
When: Noon-3 p.m. Saturday.
Where: The Parish Life Building of St. John's Episcopal Church, 3673 Maybank Highway.
More info: Contact Claudia Boyce at 860-8811 or email@example.com.
What: California Dreaming staff will cook and serve Thanksgiving dinner for 500 to 600 people.
Where: 3349 Rivers Ave.
When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
To volunteer: 747-1788 or tricountyfamilyministries.org.
What: Scores of volunteers will assemble and deliver meals for 2,500 families, or about 15,000 people.
Where: Charleston Area Convention Center, Exhibit Hall C.
When: Assembly starts at 7 a.m, deliveries at 9 a.m.
To volunteer: charlestonbasketbrigade.com.
What: Volunteers will give out 275 food baskets to families that have been pre-approved through an application process.
Where: 3429 Camp Care Road, Johns Island.
When: 2 p.m.
To volunteer: The ministry has enough volunteers for Thanksgiving, including a fraternity and sorority from the College of Charleston. For other opportunities, 768-1720 or ruralmission.org.
What: Volunteers will serve a Thanksgiving meal to about 150 people.
Where: 77 America St.
When: Noon-1 p.m.
To volunteer: The ministry has enough volunteers for Thanksgiving. For other opportunities, 723-7784 or olmoutreach.org.
What: Thanksgiving meal for about 600 people in Hampton Park.
Where: Mary Murray Drive near The Citadel.
When: Volunteers arrive at 9 a.m. and serve until about 2 p.m.
To volunteer: 958-0703 or withoutwallsministry.org.
What: Thanksgiving meal for about 250 people.
Where: 573 Meeting St.
When: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
To volunteer: The ministry has enough volunteers for Thanksgiving. For other opportunities, 723-9477, ext. 124, or crisisministries.org.
What: About 1,000 meals for 280 homebound East Cooper households.
When: Volunteers arrive about 7 a.m. to start assembling meals, drivers leave about 10 a.m. to deliver meals.
Where: Christ Church campus at 2304 U.S. Highway 17, Mount Pleasant.
To volunteer: The ministry has enough volunteers for Thanksgiving but needs more drivers throughout the year. Volunteer at 881-9350 or ecmow.org.
What: Canaan United Methodist Church will sponsor its third annual free Thanksgiving Community Brunch. Everyone is invited to attend. The event is free and open to the public.
When: 10 a.m.-noon Nov. 24.
Where: Canaan United Methodist Church-Family Life Center, 171 S.C. Highway 61, Ridgeville.
More Info: To reserve a space, call Dr. DaNine J. Fleming at 851-3827.