While most people in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving as a day at home with family, thousands of military personnel and first responders are on duty. As part of a Thanksgiving outreach, one United Methodist church in the Pittsburgh area provides hot, homemade deliveries to say 'Thank you' to those who work to keep others safe.
Locator: Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
“Hey, hey, hey, turkey’s here! Happy Thanksgiving to you.”
Every year, first responders and military in the Pittsburgh area look forward to a hot, homemade Thanksgiving meal on the job like paramedic Emily Wheeler.
Emily Wheeler, Paramedic: “It just is so nice to have somebody recognize that we have to be here….I think it just kind of speak to what churches should be about – kind of reaching out and helping their neighbors.”
Randy Cosgrove, Coraopolis United Methodist Church: “Those people that are working like that, sometimes we forget that they’re out there helping save lives and doing things for other people that sometimes goes unnoticed. So, we’ve gotten tremendous feedback and now that they’re used to it they’ll say, ‘We were waiting for that, we’re glad you’re here!’”
Volunteers from Coraoplois United Methodist Church deliver more than 100 dinners to local police, ambulance personnel and military working at the 911th air wing.
Jeff McBain, Coraopolis United Methodist Church: “To me, this is the greatest ability to give back….because they’re first responders and they’re protecting our country. So, the best thing I can do is to help make their day a little bit better.”
The deliveries are just part of a free Thanksgiving dinner at the church that was the vision of member Jeanne Cosgrove. After her mother and sister died within one week in 2011, Cosgrove approached her church about starting a new tradition.
Jeanne Cosgrove, Coraopolis United Methodist Church: “That first Thanksgiving was very difficult when it was just the four of us and we were used to having a big family, everybody there, lots of people, lots of conversation and laughter….Just to be able to come here….We walk around a talk to people….It gives us a whole family again.”
The entire church begins preparing for the feast in July, each month gathering different canned goods and non-perishables until November when they collect potatoes. The food is blessed on the altar.
Rev. Tracy Cox, Coraopolis United Methodist Church: “Feeding is very important. Making sure that tummies are full so they can hear the good news that they are loved by a God who created them is really, very important to United Methodists. And, I tell you, People love to feed one another.”
Church members pitch in from delivering turkeys to peeling potatoes.
Richard Feskorn, Coraopolis United Methodist Church: “I see a lot of people that need a hot meal and they’re by themselves at Thanksgiving. They have nowhere to go. No meal or anything. I do it because I love doing it!”
Crystal Strager moved out of state, but comes home for the holidays to work alongside her family preparing meals for delivery.
Crystal Strager, Coraopolis United Methodist Church: “We’re currently in Kansas City, Missouri. And so, we always plan to come back at Thanksgiving, so that we can take part in this and be part of our home church.”
In the dining room, the church uses real china, real silverware, placemats decorated by the Sunday school and even football on a large screen TV….all the comforts of home.
Jeanne Cosgrove, Coraopolis United Methodist Church: “A lot of the people that come are just lonely people that don’t have anyone to be with and it just gives them somebody to spend the day with.”
Rev. Tracy Cox, Lead Pastor, Coraopolis United Methodist Church: “And, so, the need that Coraopolis United Methodist Church really does fulfill on Thanksgiving Day is that bringing together of God’s people and helping others not be alone. Not just physically alone, but not feel alone in their heart and in their mind.”
If you would like to help, volunteer or attend you can visit coraopolisumc.org or call the church office at: 412-264-3727.
This video was originally posted December 1, 2015.