Thanks to “The Turkey Lady” and “Fonzie” more than 300 people got a hot Thanksgiving lunch and entertainment at First Baptist Church.
From noon to 3 p.m., Daris Wilkins and a team of volunteers hosted the 21st-annual free community dinner. For the first hour, the diners in the church fellowship hall were gifted with songs by the children’s ministry of Christopher’s S.T.A.R. Project, a local community group.
The first hour and a half were busy as people lined up to take part in the food, entertainment and conversation. As the the traffic slowed, the staff of volunteers began to rotate out so they could eat as well.
By 2 p.m. Wilkins said the dinner already had served about 300 people with an hour left to go.
Between the adults and kids helping out, there were about 55 people lending a hand this year, she said. Many were familiar faces, but a lot were new to the team, which she liked because it brought fresh enthusiasm to an event in its 21st year.
Something like this needs the next generation to get involved, she said. Wilkins has been involved in the event since the start, but is only in her third year as the director; still, she can foresee a day when someone else would have to take the reins.
Wilkins is part of a group known as Friends of a Brighter Community, made up of individuals and church members in the greater Mount Airy area who represent various denominations, races and genders.
As recently as Saturday, Friends had gathered 30 turkeys through donations, then added four more in the final days to finish with a grand total of 34 birds cooked.
So many people and groups and businesses contributed, Wilkins said.
Lowe’s Foods provided potatoes, and Old North State gave gallons of green beans, she said. Food Lion contributed pies and cakes. Miss Angel made muffins and cookies. The Emmanuel class of the church helped with stuffing.
Not only did the 300-plus visitors get fed, but so did the volunteers. Then, any leftovers were to be driven over to the Davis House and Yokefellow Ministries, she noted.
Any leftover canned goods, as well as cans brought in through a food drive, will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
The food drive was led by Christopher’s S.T.A.R. Project.
Coordinator Mitchel Fonville said the group is named after his brother Christopher Learnard Fonville, who died in the spring. Chris loved to sing and would get Mitchel’s six kids to sing with him, he said.
Not long after Chris died, Mitchel wanted a way to honor his brother so he started a group in April to help the community by giving concerts.
The acronym S.T.A.R. is based around an idea taken from Proverbs 22, verse 6, he said.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
So he formed Christopher’s Start Training At Root Project to give kids a positive influence on their spare time. He said he wanted the acronym to spell S.T.A.R. so that he could tell the children to always look up for the star.
The children’s ministry doesn’t charge for its services, but takes up a love offering that goes back into the community through things like projects and scholarships, said Fonville.
From donated yarn, the group has been creating throws for the elderly it calls Covers of Love. At the dinner the kids showed off a simple craft project they made of a paper wreath around a star design drawn on a Styrofoam plate.
Anyone interested in S.T.A.R. can contact Mitchel Fonville or director Scott Hale at [email protected]
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.