Wesley United Methodist Church to host free Thanksgiving Dinner

NILES — Those looking for food and fellowship this Thanksgiving holiday will not have to look beyond their Niles community to find a home cooked meal.

Wesley United Methodist Church will host a Thanksgiving dinner at noon Thursday at 302 Cedar St. in Niles. The meal will include turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, rolls, dessert and coffee. The meal is free and open to the public to attend. Those interested in attending are advised to call the church so that officials know how many people to expect. The church can be reached at (269) 683-7250. A ride service is available within the city to help those who need transportation.

Congregants Amy and John Wade, of South Bend, are helping to organize the dinner this year. The dinner has been a church tradition for a number of years, and the couple said they have volunteered during the event for the past eight or nine years. They took over organizing the dinner starting last year.

The couple said they like that the dinner is able to serve so many in need. 

“It just keeps growing every year,” John said. “We just do it for the community members that have no place to go. We have quite a few people that help and we are just trying to get the message out there.”

The dinner typically sees between 60 to 70 attendants. To prepare, Amy said they start cooking Tuesday. She described the dinner as a team effort that takes about 15 volunteers in the kitchen.

Amy commended church congregants for stepping up to donate ample food supplies for the dinner.

“We have lots and lots of support and other volunteers who are coming forward to serve and clean up this year,” Amy said. “That’s awesome. We love to have people come in and get to know who we are.”

She said those who volunteer try to make the dinner feel as much like home as possible. Volunteers set the tables with real silverware and dishes as opposed to plastic and disposable options.

As to what residents who attend the dinner get out of it, Amy said the dinner offers more than just a hot meal.

“Some of these people live alone and do not have family close to them any longer,” Amy said. “To have that kind of fellowship, especially on a holiday has always been traditionally important to everybody. We would not want to be alone if we did not have to be and we feel that for other people, too. We welcome them.”

While Thanksgiving is typically a day for relaxation, Amy and John said they like to spend their holiday doing something that gives back to the community.

“The both of us – we just like serving in that way,” Amy said.

The church is still seeking volunteers to help out with the dinner. Those interested in assisting are asked to call the church.

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