By Deb Patterson
SYRACUSE — Just over 900 meals were handed out to those in need by two groups Saturday, April 25, in Syracuse. Those who may have arrived too late will have two opportunities Sunday, April 26, with 335 meals being offered free.
Vineyard Community Church hosted the first lunch food giveaway, with the assistance of Down Under Bar and Restaurant, where 600 meals were handed out in just over 45 minutes. While only 500 dinners were originally planned, Down Under owner Nancy Clouse, planned a little extra, allowing 100 extra meals to be handed out. Those with children were given activity packets, while supplies lasted.
An eager group of volunteers gathered at the church to direct traffic, dish up the dinners and hand out the meals to those waiting. Derek Coy, pastor of Generation and outreach, stated one of the female church members and her small group “birthed the idea and reached out to me,” he said. The decision was to host it at the church. “Down Under was not conducive to host it,” he stated.
The group of volunteers were in awe of not only how early people arrived to receive the meals, but how quickly the meals disappeared. They even had a contingency plan should there be food left over, which didn’t happen.
The first to arrive, 95 minutes prior to the noon start time, was a mother and daughter from North Webster, who were in need of the food. They stated they wanted to make sure to arrive in time to get the meal.
The distribution began at 11:23 a.m. with volunteers handing out between one meal per vehicle to one who asked for 11 to distribute to her elderly neighbors.
“Thank you, you guys are a blessing,” was often repeated by recipients. Some even gave a contribution for the generosity received.
The scene wasn’t much different at Syracuse Eagles Aerie 3760. Eagle members grilling the 220 chicken halves and 105 chicken quarters, reported people began lining up at 11 a.m. and 45 minutes before the start time there were over 30 cars lined up in the parking lot, on Kern Road and in the Syracuse Elementary parking lot.
Steve Wolferman, Eagle member, had the idea to provide the community service. “I decided it was about our turn to do something,” he stated. “We’re the Eagles. We’re supposed to be doing this kind of stuff. This will not be the first or the last, whether it’s something for the food bank or another cook out.”
While the men took care of grilling the chicken, the auxiliary members were busy packaging homemade cookies to give out with the meal. Over 50 dozen cookies were made by the auxiliary and handed out.
The generosity of individuals and organizations, teaming up with local businesses continue Sunday with a free pancake and sausage breakfast starting at 8:30 a.m. at Syracuse Cafe, 607 N. Huntington St., Syracuse, and a pulled pork meal distributed starting at 4 p.m. at The Sleepy Owl, 11374 N. SR 13, Syracuse.
For those who have missed the taste of theater popcorn, Pickwick Theatre will be selling buckets of plain or buttered popcorn from 3-6 p.m. Sunday.