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Community's need grows; help goes beyond Thanksgiving

Published On: Nov 22 2012 05:06:21 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 23 2012 07:21:14 AM EST

Turkey was on the menu as volunteers served up a holiday meal to many people in Exeter Twp., Berks Co.


Turkey was on the menu as volunteers served up a holiday meal to many people in Exeter Twp., Berks Co.

It looked and sounded like a typical kitchen at Reformation Lutheran Church on Perkiomen Avenue.

Someone carved the turkey, another sliced the bread, while Bonnie Claycomb stirred the gravy.


Claycomb and a handful of volunteers cooked a festive feast for the congregation and the entire community.

"It's fun. It's just really gratifying to see that people enjoy it so much. There's a lot of folks that have nowhere else to go," said Claycomb, who attends the church.

For a third year, volunteers served up Thanksgiving staples like corn, stuffing and green bean casserole.

"You get to meet new people, talk to them and get to know everyone," said Pat Crosby, who attended the meal.

"It's a nice feeling for them to do it, to take time out of their everyday life to come here when they could be with their own families," said Ethel Robinson, who was thankful to have a place to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

The dinner lasted from noon until 2 p.m. After the tables were cleared and the food put away, the job was not complete.

With the demand for food increasing, the community has been making sure no one goes hungry all year long, so the church is also the hub for the Exeter Area Food Pantry.

When the pantry first opened in September 2011, it helped 10 families. Since then, demand has skyrocketed.

"This past Friday at our food pantry for November, we had 169 families," said Melissa Howell-Clarke, a volunteer with the pantry, which survives on monetary and food donations from four area churches. The focus is on people who have fallen on hard times in the suburbs. "Our clients really come from neighborhoods all over Exeter Township, Birdsboro and southeast Reading."

Giving back is not just on the menu for Thanksgiving; it's an effort that spans the entire year in Exeter Township.