SEBRING - Community Fellowship and Food will celebrate its third anniversary on Monday with a special Thanksgiving dinner served from 5 to 7 p.m. at B.L. Miller School on 19th Street in Sebring.
Friends of CFF will prepare and serve the meal of turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans.
The non-profit group was founded in November 2009, when representatives of local churches, businesses, schools and civic organizations came together to help fight hunger and loneliness in the community. Their mission is "to feed the needy in our community physically, emotionally and spiritually. This will be accomplished by providing and sharing a twice monthly meal and by praying daily for those we serve, serve with, and for the success of the program."
To date, more than 70 dinners have been held and more than 15,000 meals served. Dinners are served on the second and fourth Monday each month during the school year at B.L. Miller and during the summer at the Sebring Community Center on West Texas. An estimated 250 meals are served at each dinner, with many topping 300.
The current board of directors includes President Lynn Moore, Vice President Shelly Pinkerton, Secretary Sharon Zeppernick and Treasurer Ann Conrad. Other members are Robert Gruszecki, Mary Savage, Bonny Greenawalt, Margaret Eaton, Debra Scott and Susie Moore.
"We have been blessed with many faithful volunteers but can always use more help," said Moore. "What we really need are more groups to sponsor a meal, but any volunteer effort is very much appreciated."
Typically the sponsor group plans, pays for, cooks, sets up and serves the meal, and offers a take-home snack. The group estimates a budget of $300 per meal. Since there is no on-site kitchen facility, meals must be prepared and brought in ready to serve. Steam tables and roasters keep the food at proper temperature for serving. CFF helps organize set up and clean up and provides beverages, paper products and utensils, and can help with serving if needed.
"That might seem overwhelming to some groups." said Zeppernick, who is also in charge of scheduling. "Some groups donate money but don't have the time or means to prepare a meal, while others have lots of willing cooks but not the funds to cover everything. We work together to make sure everything is covered, and people can work where they are able."
Conrad noted that is was great to see so many young people willing to serve. "Youth groups from local schools and churches, 4-H, Scouts- it's a good experience for everybody." The young people help many sponsor groups with set up and clean up, serving drinks, and helping carry things in and out.
Working to keep the celebration going are representatives of St. Ann's Church, Bethel United Church of Christ, Sebring Presbyterian Church, Sebring Friends Church, Pine Lake Christian Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, Sebring Methodist Church, Reading Church of the Brethern, East Goshen Friends Church, Copeland Oaks, Salvation Army, MYCAP-YO, Sebring Senior Center, West Branch and Sebring Schools.
Others who helped support this effort financially and physically include Sebring Fire Department, VFW, Stratton Chevrolet, Gednetz-Ruzek Funeral Home, Sebring-West Branch Foundation, RADM, RFW Inc., Sebring Dental, Dr. Bruce Jefferies, Salem Republic Rubber and Century Link. A big boost was an anonymous donation of 1,000 pounds of processed beef.
"It's a great way to get involved in the community and meet some really nice people, both those who serve and those we are blessed to serve," said Shelly Pinkerton. "It's very rewarding to see all the different groups working together."
To help in any way, or for more information, call Lynn Moore at 330-257-3495. All donations are tax-deductible; send to CFF, PO Box 5, Sebring, Ohio 44672.