Local church donates thousands of pounds of food

The annual Robert D. Keeder Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner continued its tradition for the 32nd year.

COLUMBIA, SC — Hundreds of people received free meals inside the walls of St. Peters Catholic Church, all in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

A line of volunteers stood at the kitchen inside St. Peter’s Church on Thursday morning, all delighted to provide free meals for the day.

Inside, dozens of people volunteered time during their vacation to spread camaraderie and provide dinner to anyone who wanted it.

According to coordinator Hal Lominick, they hoped to provide 500 in-person meals during the day.

“We cook 120 turkeys over a six-day period and that’s 2,000 pounds of turkey. On top of that, we have our beans, our mashed potatoes and our gravy, and our dressing.”

He says there are no questions asked, the doors are open to anyone who just needs a meal or to keep out the cold.

One of the most important tools of the day is the line of meals to go. There, more than 750 additional meals were packaged and brought to low-income housing and assisted living facilities.

Jimmy Murphy came to dinner Thursday focusing on getting a meal. He thanked God for providing him with a space where he could meet and see others. He says even something small like this can be a lifeline for so many people.

“It celebrates the holidays and it brings together a lot of people who are homeless, who aren’t homeless. It’s a blessed day for everyone,” he said.

The volunteers also joined in the festive spirit.

Betsy Hines has been volunteering at the church for over a decade. She says it’s hard to sit down and eat your Thanksgiving meal at home without thinking of the less fortunate.

“It makes you think ‘I’m enjoying my meal, but did they get one?’ She said, “It makes me feel good to know that at least I have seen some of the most needy eat, I know they have been fed.”

Another big part of the day was to honor event creator Robert D. Keeder. The organizers gave him the official name of the dinner and presented him with a plaque honoring his commitment to the mission. He told the crowd about his humble beginnings.

“When I came to mass thirty years ago, I walked to the front of the church. As I approached the church, I saw all these people walking down the streets of Columbia without going anywhere…there’s no place in Colombia that serves Thanksgiving dinners, I said we’re gonna have to change that.”

Lominick says the church will hold a similar event on Christmas Day for anyone who wants to come.

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