Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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Cherry Street Mission finishes holiday feast season

20,000 meals dished out in week

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    Volunteer kat Lutman of Bowling Green, left, and Cherry Street Mission Ministries head chef Kary Jo Gribble serve dinner at the mission on Sunday. Some of the recipients were pleasantly surprised to find the meal being served.

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    Danielle and Nicholas Barnes of McConnellsville, Ohio, enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday.

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    Mark Jewell of Northwood hands out cranberry sauce. He is an employee of Custom Deco, which signed up with Cherry Street Mission Ministries to help with the dinner.

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    Claude Johnson of Toledo happened to be downtown when he found out about the free meal.

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Mark Jewell had thought over the years about helping less fortunate people during the holidays, and this year his employer turned that thinking into action.

The 33-year-old Northwood resident said it was because Custom Deco on Miami Street signed up with Cherry Street Mission Ministries that he handed out cranberry sauce and rolls Sunday afternoon to scores of Thanksgiving diners at the mission’s Madison Avenue Dining Center.

“I’ve always wanted to come volunteer on Thanksgiving,” Mr. Jewell said. “With this dinner being on Sunday, that made it very convenient for me to come out.”

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Danielle and Nicholas Barnes of McConnellsville, Ohio, enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday.

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While Mr. Jewell and other volunteers planned their Sunday afternoons around serving food to an estimated 200 people, several of those on the receiving end said they didn’t even know about the free meal until they heard about it from others during the day, or just happened onto it.

“I didn’t know this was happening,” said Vanessa Dixon, 50, of Sandusky, who was visiting friends in Toledo when word-of-mouth reached her.

“It’s God’s surprise to humanity. This is heaven,” she said.

Claude Johnson, 65, of Toledo said he ordinarily would have been walking at Franklin Park Mall to get exercise, or maybe taking in a movie, but he happened to be downtown Sunday afternoon.

“I just came to the door and they said it [dinner] was going on,” he said. “Everything was just beautiful.”

And Nicholas and Danielle Barnes of McConnellsville, Ohio, said they found themselves in Toledo homeless shelters — he at Cherry Street, she at the affiliated Sparrow’s Nest women’s shelter — after they helped a friend flee an unsafe domestic situation in southern Ohio and then were kicked out of the local place they were staying afterward.

“I enjoyed this meal,” said a satisfied Nicholas Barnes, 22, who expects to start a new job in early January. “I’ll be making plenty enough then to be out of here.”

The Thanksgiving feast featuring turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green-bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, and other traditional trimmings was the last of about 20,000 charity meals the Cherry Street Mission served throughout a holiday week that had started out Nov. 19 with its Box Out Hunger campaign, said Max Lambdin, the mission’s vice president of mission advancement.

Box Out Hunger, which involved delivery of 2,000 full Thanksgiving meals to households across the Toledo area by more than 400 volunteers, was followed on the holiday itself by a feast for about 1,500 people at the Real Seafood restaurant in East Toledo and delivery of about 900 hot holiday meals to homes, Mr. Lambdin said.

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Mark Jewell of Northwood hands out cranberry sauce. He is an employee of Custom Deco, which signed up with Cherry Street Mission Ministries to help with the dinner.

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Thanksgiving is by far Cherry Street Mission’s busiest for charity meal service, he said, because “it’s the only holiday that has the meal as its center focus.

“We don’t want to see anybody miss a meal,” and that’s especially so this time of year, he said.

Sunday’s dinner will be the last Thanksgiving meal the mission serves at the Madison Avenue Dining Center, because by this time next year it expects to have moved its meal service to the Macomber Building. 

But until that move occurs next spring, Mr. Lambdin said, Cherry Street’s soup kitchen will continue operating at 1919 Madison.

Barb Fischer of Oregon, whose brother-in-law is on the mission’s staff, served pumpkin pie and cookies for dessert during her first year volunteering.

“I just want to give back,” Ms. Fischer said. “It’s something I’ll probably do more of in the future. I’ve had friends who have done it, so I’ve always wanted to do something, and now I have the time.”

Most of the cookies on her tray had festive holiday decorations, along with one lonely cookie iced in blue and yellow with a University of Michigan logo. Ms. Fischer gave that one to John Adams, 62, who lives in Tennessee but was visiting relatives in Toledo during the holiday weekend.

“I’m not a Michigan fan, but I’ll eat it,” said Mr. Adams, a professed Ohio State fan who nonetheless left the forlorn cookie on his plate when he was finished, a day after OSU beat Michigan in a double-overtime edition of their annual football rivalry.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.

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