Church serves up annual Thanksgiving lunch

HARLINGEN — Heriberto Cruz was sitting with Winter Texans enjoying Thanksgiving together yesterday.

Cruz, 54, a Harlingen resident, had already had seconds and as the children serving pumpkin pie rolled passed his table he got their attention by reaching for them and twiddling his fingers — requesting another slice.

It was his second time coming to the First United Methodist Church Thanksgiving meal.

He said he was so grateful to be alive, and for his mother and to be there celebrating Thanksgiving.

More than 600 plates were served at yesterday’s annual Thanksgiving lunch hosted by the church.

J.J. Wicke, First United Methodist pastor, said the church has been celebrating the Thanksgiving lunch for about eight years to help feed the hungry.

He said he was especially proud of the church and community coming together to put on the holiday lunch.

“It’s an act of God’s love and we are so grateful we can serve our community and really be the church for our community,” Wicke said.

Many of the volunteers were church members, and even the Boys Scouts showed up to give back to the community.

“It’s unbelievable the number of volunteers that gave part of their Thanksgiving to come help us,” Wicke said.

Lena Rendon, a Harlingen resident, was there celebrating Thanksgiving with her friend.

She said all her family was out of town and she didn’t have the food or means to make a Thanksgiving meal at home this year.

“I was so happy to come to the church for Thanksgiving,” Lena said. “The food was delicious.”

The church served 32 turkeys that were cooked in the back of the church by the men’s club with deep fryers.

Each bird was dipped in oil then taken to the kitchen were volunteers sliced and chopped it up before it was served.

Two of the many servers were Boys Scouts Ricardo Viader and Andres Saldivar, both 12, of Troop 1701 in Harlingen.

Both Scouts served more than 20 people in two hours time — each walking back and fourth through the gym serving turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing plates to the hungry people there to celebrate the holiday tradition.

“I feel like I’m being very helpful,” Andres said.

The Boy Scouts wanted to help the church for allowing them to use their facility for their weekly scout meetings.

“When there is an opportunity to help out, we want to do that,” Ricardo said. “Usually on Thanksgiving you get the food so it was a perfect opportunity for us to give to the community and help the church at the same time.”