Thanksgiving at Harlingen Methodist Church attracts many hot food and friendship enthusiasts

Visitors are served a traditional meal at First United Methodist Church of Harlingen at the church’s annual Thanksgiving meal Thursday, November 24, 2022 from noon to 2 p.m. (Travis Whitehead/Valley Morning Star)

Harlingen – They came from all directions, men with bitter faces and sparkling eyes, women in shirts, lavender hats and stride with raw combinations of weariness and hunger expecting the rare satisfaction.

They moved wearisomely from the November day into the welcoming warmth of First United Methodist Church in Harlingen. The church used to serve its annual Thanksgiving meal on Thursdays from noon to two in the afternoon

Many call ahead.

“I like it here,” said Patrick Klein, 48, who calmly digested his meal of turkey, salsa, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.

It was a fine meal, he said, and he had two boxes ready to leave with him, one for a neighbor who had nowhere to go.

He said, “I come here every year.” “They have excellent service, excellent food, good people, and it’s a place to go… It’s help for those in need, people who don’t have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving.”

People moved seamlessly beyond the serving line, filling their plates with copious amounts of Thanksgiving wonders served by kind volunteers who spoke kindly to their customers.

The tables were vibrant with color, the warm familiarity of people with apparent appreciation, and plates empty with the crust sprouting from spent pumpkin pie.

FUMC Associate Pastor Fred Perez appreciated the turnout, which looked much better than last year when many were still wary of the pandemic and ongoing restrictions.

“We had a great turnout,” Perez said. “My concern was that if we were going to get people out.”

He looked at the transmission line, which had shrunk dramatically in a short period of time.

“As you can see, we have two trays of food left, thank God,” he said.

A large number of people descended on the church for a meal.

A teenage boy with disheveled hair and clothes held on his tired body devoured large amounts of food.

A man in a tattered jacket and a bushy white beard falling over his shirt stares away with a distant look, perhaps at his loneliness and loss or perhaps at bright memories of Thanksgiving past.

Another teenage boy scrolled through the pages of his phone in an apparent attempt to distract him from the boredom or sadness of a dark holiday.

Children eat eagerly, with joy in their eyes.

“Everything is good today!” said 6-year-old Mia Garcia.

Her father and mother agreed.

“It’s a really good Thanksgiving meal,” said her father, Frank Camacho.

He added, “If it weren’t for this place, we’d probably be at home watching TV.”

Many introduced themselves as organizers at the FUMC Thanksgiving meal.

“I really enjoy it, I come here every year,” said David Guajardo, 48, whose two daughters, ages 8 and 9, savor quick bites of pumpkin pie.

“This year I did something different,” said Guajardo. I donated turkeys. I donated mashed potatoes. Flyers distributed. I did it out of appreciation.”

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