For weeks before, staff at the Lafayette Urban Ministry were coordinating donations and volunteers and the hundreds of arrangements. Like two days before the holiday, the TEXAS ROAD HOUSE, a local restaurant, called to donated sweet potatoes. Rita, staff member, thought she would pick up the donation on one of her last moment errands. But when she got there, the sweet potatoes were huge - about the size of a loaf of bread. She needed a truck – Texas size!!
More than a hundred volunteers from all walks of life signed up to help. One group of men at a local church got up early in the morning, like 3:00 am, to roast 32 turkeys in the church kitchen. They have been doing this for years and years. These turkeys were added to another 30 or so that were all donated anticipating a record number of guests.
Back in 1988 and the year after my divorce, I was feeling glum with Thanksgiving just round the corner. Someone said to me: "It's a shame there is no community celebration in Lafayette." I got to thinking…..why not and the planning began.
We made sure that the invitation was open to anyone who wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with others. You did not have to be poor or alone. In fact we attracted professors and students from Purdue, entire families with kids, pastors, doctors, lawyers and many others. It was a grand gathering that made no economic or social distinction. It felt like a grand extended family – about 200 people participated that first year. It has grown every year since and still attracts people from all walks of life.
This year I was honored. Joe Micon, LUM Director, invited tme to share the Thanksgiving Blessing...
O God, hear our prayer of thankfulness and help us to remember others.
When I have plenty of food,
Help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
Help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
Help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
Help me to remember those tossing sleepless in hospital beds;
When I plan a life of bright tomorrows,
Help me to remember children who need care today.
When I am surrounded by my family,
Help me remember others mourning the loss of a loved one;
When I enjoy all my friendships,
Help me remember the lonely and depressed who may have little laughter in their lives;
And when I am feeling blessed in a hundred different ways,
Help me to remember that I too can be a blessing to others…if only I would act.
O God, on this glorious Thanksgiving Day
Destroy complacency and renew compassion within us.
May this day not pass without our daring to reach out to others
And through loving actions to lessen some of the pain in this broken world.
O God, hear our Thanksgiving prayer as we remember others.
A newspaper reporter came by and filed this report…
November 28, 2008
Serving about 800, LUM dinner 'bigger than ever'
By MICHAEL MALIK
Lafayette resident Olly Johnson was at Lafayette Urban Ministry's community dinner last year at Thanksgiving.
Johnson said Thursday that he had to come back again. "I wanted to come back this year because they have some nice food," Johnson said. "It's juicy turkey and everything."
Johnson was one of about 800 people who attended LUM's annual event Thursday at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Lafayette. The event was open to all who wanted to attend, not just those who were in need this year.
Anyone that wants to share a Thanksgiving with someone else can come," said Rita Tillett, a program director for LUM. "Lots of people that have family that live out of town, they find this to be a great place where they can volunteer and share Thanksgiving with a group of other people."
People who went to the dinner could listen to live music, chat with friends or just eat traditional Thanksgiving food.
Lafayette resident Andy Williams said he enjoyed the food and seeing old friends. "When you come out to events like this here you get a chance to see people," Williams said. "Some you ain't seen in a long time. Some you meet and you find out what's going on."
The tables at the church had placemats decorated with Thanksgiving themes by children. LUM has been hosting the community dinner every year since 1986.
About 100 volunteers served 65 turkeys and 100 pies.
Tillett said she was pleased with the outcome and is glad so many people showed up to share a Thanksgiving Day meal together.
"Everyone that was there that helped in the past said it was bigger than ever."
I was looking forward to Thanksgiving in Lafayette and I was not disappointed.