Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

November 21, 2013

A decade of thanks for community gathering

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — Though the traditional American Thanksgiving may not be as celebrated these days as the yuletide holiday that shoves it aside in the retail environment, for one Pauls Valley congregation, missing is not an option.

Holding strong in providing a location and event for those who seek fellowship, but may be unable to prepare their own feast is Cornerstone Community Church’s annual meal.

Always held on the holiday itself, this time Thursday, Nov. 28, those like Pastor Brian Black are ready to welcome any and all who come through the doors at what is now Punkin’s Restaurant for the 10th such occasion.

“We keep doing it because we see it as an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love in a practical way,” Black said. “I’d feel like something was missing of we didn’t do it.”

“We’ve been blessed through the years so we give back.”

Fully decked out with all the expected eats including turkey, ham, dressing and pie for dessert, Black will be there with his own family working the kitchen as well as the serving lines.

Many people have begun to use it as their own family dinner returning each time, others being weary travelers pulling off the interstate and volunteers even come help from as far away as Oklahoma City in order to find a way to give back themselves.

“We’re thankful for the help and we’re blessed because of it,” said Black, noting how it also doesn’t hurt that the meal is free.

“My folks come every year now. It’s because it’s a family tradition for us too.”

Any time as it goes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. is fine to show up, though Black pointed out how people can show up later than the beginning of the meal as there will be plenty to go around and it would lessen the crowded factor.

The number seems to grow steadily each time out and the hope is to at least have enough food to serve as many as 800 this time around.

“It’s the only place in town we’ve been able to identify that has the full kitchen we need and the seating we need,” said Black, mentioning why it has stayed at the same location for so long.

Black is even taking into account the fact that the Samaritans won’t be able to serve as many through their Thanksgiving baskets this year and is making sure enough food is ready accordingly.

“Thanksgiving has become the forgotten holiday,” said Black, noting how the TV will be on to show football games.

“Thanksgiving is just a bump in the road and I don’t like it. It’s important to remember why we’re thankful and to give thanks.”

The location for the meal is 1911 West Grant near Indian Meridian.