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By Whitney Wyatt/The Red River Sun—
CHILDRESS – Because of COVID-19, this year’s Agape Thanksgiving Meal at the First United Methodist Church in Childress provided more than just food.
“The meal was not only delicious but a blessing to us,” said Jaylyn Engle. “Phoebe and I received our delicious hot meals, and I can’t explain how much it meant to me. We were quarantined and unable to spend the day with our family.”
They weren’t alone. First United Methodist Church volunteers delivered 330 meals to Childress families. Rev. Louis W. Ellerbrook said 236 meals were also picked up from the church.
“I think with so much physical distancing that is creating social distance, we needed to come together to accomplish something bigger than any of us,” Ellerbrook said. “To still be able to provide this meal for our community feels amazing.”
That feeling spread throughout volunteers. Ellerbrook said many church members sacrificed to prep and cook food as well as serve the meals. He saw little kids come with their parents and be involved. Students from elementary to high school also served and learned how to prep and cook from others.
Ellerbrook enjoyed seeing children, parents and grandparents work together to serve others. He thinks it provided a way for people to connect with others as well as serve others many hadn’t been able to do during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think those that volunteered enjoyed the opportunity to gather together and make the cornbread dressing and desserts together, smoke turkeys and debone the turkeys,” Ellerbrook explained. “Our volunteers jumped in and made this year’s meal not only happen but very successful.”
Some of the volunteers didn’t attend FUMC. They came from other Childress churches to lend a hand.
“I was blessed by working alongside not only my Methodist family but several other Childress church member volunteers to prep and serve,” said Ginger Long. “God works mighty within us and through us. We as a whole are the church called to serve in the name of Jesus.”
Meals were delivered to homes where families were quarantined because of COVID-19 as well as businesses, including Childress Regional Medical Center. “All the hospital staff absolutely loved their food,” said Nikki Hill. “It was such a huge blessing to those who could not be with their families due to work. Thankful for people like you.”
This sentiment was echoed throughout town. “We are on quarantine, so this was a huge blessing,” said Charyl Price, who was also thankful for the meal. “The gentleman who delivered it was very nice.”
Carolyn Carrick missed seeing everyone like past Thanksgivings, but she said having it delivered was a safer alternative. “Absolutely delicious and such a blessing to receive,” she added. “The little masked cowboy and his dad made our day when they delivered our meals. Thank you all.”
What Sandy Grillet calls “a powerful ministry to our community” reached further than Childress. Kerry Hurst, the FUMC pastor from 1987 to 1996, even heard about it. The Thanksgiving Agape Meal started while he was pastor.
“Very proud you continue to love the needy and lonely during this very difficult time in our world,” Hurst said.
While volunteer Althea Driver gives credit to God, she wants to thank Ellerbrook, Joan Tregellas, Richard and Julie Olson and Karen Leonard for their hard work.
“They went over and above in time and effort to make this happen,” Driver said. “Much thanks to their leadership and sacrifice.”
Ellerbrook would also like to thank volunteers: J, Larin and Max Boles; Creede Breeding; Emma and Teagan Britten; Susan Davidson; Lee Ann Dean; Cooper, Michille and Rudy Delgado; Jim Dowis; the Drivers; Benjamin, Jacob, Madilyn and Rebecca Ellerbrook; Jaxon, Rochelle and Sean Fouts; Anne Fromm; Ethan, Reaghan and Sarah Gonzalez; Kimberly Hickman; Lila and Tom Hoobler; Landon Johnson; Richard and Sabrina Landrum; Karen Leonard; Ginger Long; Jay, Kaleb and Sharalyn “Thank you to all who helped in any way,” said volunteer James Driver. “I believe it was most likely our most important meal ever. It was a difficult ordeal with the complications of COVID, but God provided again.”
Ellerbrook added there were some worries and stress trying to figure out how to make the meal happen this year, as well as when food started running low on Thanksgiving. But God provided once again. “With the last car that pulled up, we served the last of our turkey.”