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November 25, 2011

Giving back through thanks at Thanksgiving

On a day where families gather, so many people tried to find those without family - or just plain needed someone to be like family - Thursday on Thanksgiving Day in Rock Hill.

On a day where families gather, so many people tried to find those without family - or just plain needed someone to be like family - Thursday on Thanksgiving Day in Rock Hill.

Around the city, it was beautiful what these volunteers did. Because what they did was for someone they likely never met, or even saw, before Thanksgiving.

At the historic Mount Prospect Baptist Church on Black Street, the one and only George Harris, a 74-year-old cook at Winthrop University, led the charge to make enough food for anyone who was hungry. The church, for the second year, threw open its doors to anyone who wanted to walk through them.

"God gives you a gift of sharing, a gift of love, and a day like today is all about being thankful for God's blessings and sharing those blessings with anyone you meet," said Harris.

The church membership, young and old, worked to ladle out not just food, but love.

"People need each other," said Dorothy Hunter, working the serving line.

"We all need to give back to others," said Talaya Richmond, a Winthrop student working next to Hunter.

Down the serving line, giving out as much as anyone wanted to eat at decorated tables or to take home, stood Charles Moore and Tyrone Hart, Fredine Patterson and Wendi Carter. So many others washed pots and pans, served food, rushed around, greeted neighbors and strangers.

The Rev. William Ferguson, the senior pastor, worked like everyone else, even helping to bake pies deep into the night before Thanksgiving.

"Service," Ferguson said. "We are here to serve. We serve all who need it. Today is but one day of service."

The church even shipped out dozens of to-go styrofoam containers to shut-ins and the disabled.

Just like people did at St. Anne Catholic Church a few miles away, sending out several hundred plates to people who needed a meal. Some of that St. Anne food went to the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, on Crawford Road across from St. Mary's Catholic Church. At the soup kitchen, volunteers young and old, black and white, rich and not-so-rich, gave up much of the day so others could eat.

And some food for the needy didn't even have a roof over it. The men of Shine Time, a record label and recording studio, and the Elite Ladies of Shine Time, gave food to dozens of people in the Hagins-Fewell neighborhood in front of a social club on Wilson Street. At a party Wednesday night, the cost to get in was not money but canned goods for the hungry.

"We all have to give out blessings in life - this is our way of passing along blessings to those people who need one," said Titus Burris, Shine Time CEO.

The social club/musician Thanksgiving feeding of people, coupled with the two Catholic churches and soup kitchen, plus the Baptist church event, were just a few of so many great efforts Thursday.

The people who served that food looked just like Rock Hill. They were of all races; they have white-collar and blue-collar jobs.

All shared one thing that George Harris, that cook at Mount Prospect, called simply "Love. Love is to be shared. Love for your fellow man is something to be given out, for free, and spread throughout the world."

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