Harlingen’s First Methodist Church serves annual Thanksgiving Meal

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Volunteers serve Thanksgiving meals Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, at the First Methodist Church. (Travis M. Whitehead | Valley Morning Star)

HARLINGEN — Volunteers at the First Methodist Church were ready to serve.

They prepared and served 300 plates of turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving.

It’s the church’s annual Community Thanksgiving Meal and Pastor Phillip Hoeflinger is pleased with the turnout.

“It’s going very well,” he says with great enthusiasm.

“We have this every year,” he continues. “We believe it’s a value to love extremely, to love our community extremely. This is to show our community they can be loved on Thanksgiving Day.”

The tables in the dining hall are filled with families with children.

A steady stream of people pass by the serving line where volunteers fill plates with turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and they enjoy brief and pleasant conversations.

Juan Castillo sat with satisfaction as he slowly finished his pumpkin pie.

“It’s a good meal, very nice,” said Castillo, 73. “I didn’t have no where else to go.”

His sister Susan Navarro, 70, sat next to him.

“I look forward to this every year,” she said. “It’s very delicious and they take care of you. Everyone’s so friendly. I actually walk to this every year. They’re very nice and wonderful.”

Maria Tovar, 64, also joined the meal and the warmth of the gathering.

“I enjoy it immensely,” she says. “This is so nice, they do it every year. I am homeless right now, so I enjoy this.”