Bethel A.M.E Church has existed in the Tallahassee community for 146 years. By 8 a.m. Saturday morning, the fellowship hall at Bethel A.M.E Church was filled with families, food, and volunteers, as the church held its biggest Thanksgiving initiative in years.
Under the leadership of Reverend Julius McAllister Jr., and Debra Austin, church school Superintendent, the church provided 450 families with a Thanksgiving feast. The church has been distributing Thanksgiving meals for the past 20 years.
“This is the biggest one we’ve ever done,” said Austin. “It feels good to be able to help as many families as we can.”
Friday, Nov.10, church members, along with the help of Florida A&M’s softball team, Florida State’s softball team and community volunteers, assembled the baskets. Each basket included a turkey, collard greens, stuffing, rice, black-eyed peas and eight canned goods. They also assembled separate bags with a number of other food items.
Saturday morning, each family was checked in, given a basket and a card with a special message from the senior minister, Rev. McAllister, which read “On behalf of myself, first lady Deana and the entire Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church family, we pray that this basket will be a blessing to you and yours this Thanksgiving season.”
Families with seven or more people were also given an additional food bag filled with miscellaneous items, including cereals and deserts.
“People in our community are in need of help and it is the Christian duty to lend a hand wherever possible,” said Austin.
The church also provided home deliveries for the sick and shut-in. After listed families received baskets, the church permitted a number of others present at the time, including student volunteers, to add their names to the wait list as well.
“I’m glad some of the students got to get a basket as well. They should consider that a token of our appreciation for all the time they put in today,” said Austin. “Especially those who came at 5:30 this morning.”
Many of the students who helped prepare baskets Friday afternoon returned early Saturday morning to help set up.
“It’s nice to see the expressions on everyone’s faces. I know I did something good today,” said softball team member Tera Gainer. “Some people even hugged and blessed us on their way out.”