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Local churches offer free community meals



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May 21, 2014 - By Katie Winkler

Review Staff Writer

A tradition began in the kitchen of the Lake Orion United Methodist Church, and no one has left hungry since.

Community members began coming together for a free meal every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 a couple years ago with help from local organization Love in the Name of Christ (LOVE INC).

Dinners are provided by Lake Orion United Methodist Church (Mondays), Kensington Church (third Monday of every month), St. Mary's Episcopal church (fifth Monday of each month) Emmanuel Congregational Church in Oxford (Tuesday), Oxford United Methodist Church (Wednesday), and Christ the King in Oxford (Thursday). The money for meals is raised through fundraisers and donations from attendees that are able and donations are made from local businesses like Great Harvest Bread Company, Starbucks and Tim Horton's.

"It's open to everybody, no charge, social setting, tons of elderly. They come an hour early to have coffee before the meal is ready," United Methodist church member Jim Childers said. "Some people who come are in need. We also have people who come and eat that could go out and eat at any fine restaurant."

These well-balanced meals include vegetables from local gardens (which may be donated), hardy main dish, fresh salad and fruit, according to Sharon Keener, Lake Orion United Methodist Church member. Not only does this help those in need, but also it gives community members the opportunity to develop friendships and have fun out of the house during the week.

"It's a very lighthearted lovely atmosphere. At first people were kind of hesitant, but they aren't anymore," Keener said. "They have gotten to where they really care about each other. They send get well cards, and it's a very well supportive community. Most of the folks don't even attend church there but they feel very comfortable and at home."

Many attendees arrive early for socializing and coffee. This time before the meal gives them the opportunity to submit prayers to pastors or members from Stephen Ministry that will be acknowledged before meals begin.

"It's available to everyone who desires to have a free meal. Some people come for the social aspect. For some that is the only meal they have that day," Sandy Weaver, from LOVE INC, said.

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