Over Thanksgiving weekend (celebrated in Canada in October), the Elgersma family from Community Church of Richmond Hill, Ont., cooked 195 trays of turkey dinner to share with their community. The outreach will now continue as a monthly meal-making event.
For over 25 years, Community Church, a Christian Reformed congregation, has hosted a community Thanksgiving dinner. Due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, the church considered canceling this outreach program in 2020. Timothy Elgersma, whose family has been involved in the annual dinner for close to 15 years, challenged his family by asking, “People aren’t hungry this year?”
So they worked on a to-go option instead. Jonathan, Timothy, Peter, Evy, and Allison Elgersma and Noah Kunej roasted 220 lbs. of turkey, made mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables, prepared stuffing, and made gravy and cranberry sauce. All the food was donated by a local grocery store. They worked in the church's kitchen and kept the volunteers to just their family to minimize contact.
Timothy Elgersma said, “Thanksgiving was a lot of fun! It's exciting to cook in a commercial-style kitchen. That night, I saw turkeys every time I closed my eyes. It'll be awhile before I want to carve a bird again!”
All the prepared food was packaged in sealed trays and the dinners were then distributed to neighbors in the community by members of the church. Jack Klooster, the church’s youth pastor and community relations coordinator at Genesis Place Apartments, said, “Our mission at Community Church is to reach out and enfold. We see this as an amazing opportunity to meet those in our community, start a conversation, and let them know that we are there for them if there is anything they need.”
The Elgersma family will continue the meal ministry, contributing their time and purchasing food with the support of the church. Timothy Elgersma said, “We want to share the blessings that we've been given with the community around us. We have a nice kitchen and the ability to cook. ‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace,’ (1 Pet. 4:10).” He said the future meals will be less ambitious than the Thanksgiving effort, so the cooking team might be smaller. “My dad and I will be there every time, with some help from friends or family.”
Klooster is helping to make the connections with community members who would like a meal, and extra meals will be stored in the church’s freezer until needed. The church also continues to serve community needs with its Children's Clothing Closet—a free monthly clothing outreach.