On a recent wind-whipped morning, Eddie Moore bundled up in a sweatshirt and stocking cap and waited outside True Love Church.
Moore was among the 1,500 people who stood in line to receive a free frozen turkey with plenty of trimmings for a complete Thanksgiving meal.
“I’ve got three kids and not a whole lot of money, so this is a big help,” said Moore, who will share Thanksgiving meal with his wife and children, 4, 8 and 12.
By 8 a.m. Saturday, a line of several hundred wound around the south Fort Worth church. Volunteers hauled turkeys out of a semi-truck and handed out plastic sacks of groceries with a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes, three cans of corn, three cans of green beans, two boxes of stuffing, two boxes of macaroni and cheese, two two-liters of pop and a pumpkin pie.
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“The church phone never stops ringing this time of year,” said Pastor Michael E. Williams, who founded True Love 13 years ago. “People are crying. They tell us they would never be able to provide Thanksgiving dinner without our help.”
The church phone never stops ringing this time of year.
True Love Pastor Michael E. Williams
True Love Church began providing Thanksgiving meals eight years ago to just 40 families. Demand grew every year, and the congregation of 100 sought more help and volunteers.
Then five years ago, Anthony Dayer, whose family owns Linq Transport, an Irving-based logistics company, saw Williams on the news talking about the donation drive. Dayer and his father, Louis, and brother, Hector, reached out to provide assistance.
The Dayer family returns every year to help.
“Our business was doing well, and we felt blessed,” Anthony Dayer said. “We knew we wanted to give back to our community, and what better way to do that than give families a Thanksgiving meal.”
At True Love, families and volunteers alike said the act of cooking together and sharing a meal at home gives Thanksgiving a special meaning.
“It’s a day to spend at home with your family and be thankful for what you do have,” said Moore, adding that he looks forward to eating pumpkin pie.
‘A great big heart’
True Love member Cynthia Nickles said she and fellow church members have found a calling through the annual Thanksgiving drive. In December, the church plans to provide Christmas meals to 500 families.
“It feels so good to give back. You can see in people’s faces that they are so grateful,” she said “For some, this won’t be Thanksgiving dinner. They will be hungry before then and won’t be able to wait.”
Nickles added, “Ours is a small church with a great big heart.”
1,500 families who received a Thanksgiving meal from True Love Church.
Carrying a large frozen turkey to her car, Sandra Crosby said she did not know whether she could have afforded to purchase Thanksgiving supplies without help from True Love Church.
On Thanksgiving, she said, she will give thanks for her family and for the church that provided this meal.
“We should give thanks every single day for just being alive,” Crosby said. “Thanksgiving is a good time to remember that.”
Turkeys by the thousands
Other organizations and congregations also offered help.
In Hurst, First United Methodist Church provided 1,100 grocery bags with turkeys and trimmings.
Arlington Charities handed out hundreds of Thanksgiving Day food baskets Monday and Tuesday.
And the Community Food Bank in Fort Worth pre-registered 4,000 people to receive food baskets on Monday and Tuesday, and will accept walk-ins on Wednesday to hand out any leftovers.
“People that did not pre-register can come by Wednesday,” said Regina Taylor, with the food bank at 3000 Galvez Ave. in Fort Worth. “Lord knows how many people are going to come by.”
Lord knows how many people are going to come by.
Regina Taylor with Community Food Bank in Fort Worth
Helping out on Thanksgiving
210 W. South St., Arlington
People can sign up for Thanksgiving baskets, hot prepared meals or participate in a sit down meal at Mission Arlington on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Sign up continues through Thanksgiving Day. Sit down meal is at 11 a.m.
Information: 817-277-6620 or missionarlington.org.
Community Food Bank
3000 Galvez Ave., Fort Worth
Those who did not pre-register for turkey boxes can show up on Wednesday to receive help. There are no Zip code restrictions for those in need. The charity is still in need of frozen turkeys.
Information: 817-924-3333 ask for Regina or Rudy Taylor. Online at www.food-bank.org.
Beautiful Feet Ministries
1709 E. Hattie St., Fort Worth
Thanksgiving Day breakfast and meals will be served. People can attend Bible study at 9 a.m. followed by a breakfast. At 11:15 a.m., there will be a chapel service and celebration followed by noon Thanksgiving Day meal.
Information: 817-536-0505 or thefeet.org.
The Salvation Army
1855 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth
A Thanksgiving Day meal will be served to the homeless and families in need. The meal will be served between 11:30 a..m. and 1 p.m. Thursday and includes turkey, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, yams, rolls and pumpkin pie.
Union Gospel Mission
1321 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth
People are asked to arrive about 20 minutes before noon on Wednesday or Thursday, when traditional Thanksgiving meals will be served. People will be ushered to the chapel for a short sermon and music before eating.
Information: 817-339-2553 or www.ugm-tc.org.