Two local organizations saw to it that those in need had a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day.
The American Legion Fred Hilburn Post #11 on G Avenue as well as the Templo Marantha Church on Fifth Street fed approximately 375 people a meal that consisted of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy as well as rolls and a desert.
Natalie Noriega said this is the 20th straight year her church has been providing free meals to the community on Thanksgiving.
This year’s event almost didn’t happen however as the old church located at 527 Fifth Street suffered a major setback when a wall caved in while undergoing roof repairs.
“There was some damage done to the building by all the rain we had last year,” Noriega said. “When we began to work on the roof a few months ago one of the side walls came down.”
Noriega added their insurance is covering just a portion of the repairs and the congregation of about 40 members has been doing some fundraisers which includes a go-fund me page which can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/maranatha039s-new-roof?member=1000824&fbclid=IwAR1JTvj5zGnxM0q3C4NP9ABWkAOZf2fxZ3kmCtWpj-FQpqH3Rh05e_W0ng0.
The Marantha Church is tax exempt under 501(c)3 status.
The church is hoping to raise $5,000 but is currently well short of that goal with only $330 being shown as to how much has been raised. Repairs are being done by the church members.
“Over 25-years ago Pastor Marco A. Noriega and wife Vicenta alongside their children made a commitment to the Lord to serve him with all their hearts,” a statement on the Go-Fund me page reads. “They were called to be Pastors and with very little recourse began their mission, they stated by gathering for services at friends and neighbor homes selling tamales among other activities until they had raised enough money to rent a location to gather as a church. Maranatha Pentecostal Ministries was established … in 1995, and since then has strived to serve the community of Douglas and Agua Prieta Son.
“Maranatha is known for sharing love to the people and takes any opportunity to share the love of God for us and bless others what we have already been with. The congregation has been serving Thanksgiving dinner every Thanksgiving for 20 years, also emergency food boxes are available all year long to whomever is in need of. For many years members of the congregation gather on Saturday morning to cook a lunch and share the word to whoever walked through the church’s door that Saturday. Marantha many times was the provider of the only hot meal some people that that day. The church is also known because every Friday they have a different delicious menu item they sell for lunch.”
Family members state Marantha has been able to sustain its doors open for over 20 years because they have fearless leaders who have worked very hard and trusted in the Lord.
Like all things tend to ware out and the roof to the church is one of them, it was no longer able to stand for another year due to extensive damage and it just had to come down. The church insurance was able to provide part of the income necessary for the repair of the roof, but as they began working more damage was discovered than what was originally foreseen.
“Any amount of donation you can give will be of immense help in order to restore our temple that has been the place of safe haven for many for over 20 years,” the statement reads.
Since the damage the church has been meeting in its kitchen which is where the meals were served from Thanksgiving Day.
“This was our first Thanksgiving that we didn’t have a service,” Esther Suchite, Natalie’s sister, said adding that usually her church has a Thanksgiving Day service before distributing the meals. “When all this happened our initial thought was to not have the Thanksgiving meal this year but our congregation said they still wanted to do it so we did. … Several local businesses also helped us out by making donations.”
On Friday Suchite reported that an estimated 120 people were served meals Thanksgiving Day through her church.
“It was good,” she said. “We talk about how glad we were we did it again this year, and (we) want to continue serving our community.”
At the American Legion, 16 turkeys were prepped for their Thanksgiving dinner.
On Friday Scott Babicky said various American Legion members as well as businesses in the community donated to their event. This is his 10th year running the event but the American Legion has been hosting it longer than that.
“We had a lot of new faces this year, people we’ve never seen before,” he said. “We had more donations this year than we’ve had in previous years which made all this possible. …According to the plates it was 225 plus people that we served. We also delivered several meals to people that were shut in, so in all I would say 225 to 250 people were served.”
Babicky said he looks forward to doing this every year.
“This was one of the larger groups that we fed,” he said. “We had plenty of members helping out this year.”
The American Legion is now making plans to celebrate its 100th anniversary which will take place sometime in March or April, he said. “We won’t turn anyone away. Doing something like this hits you right in the heart. People seem to be thankful to have a hot meal and a place to sit down and enjoy it.”
Babicky said he wanted to thank all the legion members as well as the various members of the community who helped out with this event.