LETTER TO THE EDITOR…
Thank You From God’s Storehouse and The Jesus Inn
Most hosts get stressed out when 15 family and friends come to their house for Thanksgiving dinner — but imagine serving a meal to 1515 guests. That is precisely what occurred at God’s Storehouse and the Jesus Inn Recovery Center in Vidalia last week.
For Pastor Tina Houser, Director/ Founder of God’s Storehouse & The Jesus Inn Recovery Center of Vidalia, it was just another opportunity to care for her friends and neighbors. Miss Tina and her husband, Pastor Rusty Houser of New Life Church of Vidalia, have been serving Thanksgiving meals for two decades now.
On November 25, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., serving lines were opened to anyone and everyone who wanted a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner. The menu included turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato soufflé, cranberries, a dinner roll, cake, and a glass of sweet iced tea.
Grateful guests were able to drive through or walk up to serving lines which were manned by volunteers from all over the community. When asked why they took time from their busy holiday routines to help out, most replied that they just wanted to give something back. They were “thankful for God having blessed them,” they said. Veteran volunteers warmed up 300, 12 x 18 deep-dish trays of holiday cuisine in the kitchen and prepared hundreds of “to-go plates.” Many continued from page
were delivered to those unable to get to the event in person. Over 100 plates were delivered to nursing homes and first responders in the police, fire, EMS, and those on duty in the local hospital’s emergency department.
Several people were involved in cooking and warming prepared food the night before the event. Herschel Mincey opened hundreds of cans of green beans and cranberries. Residents of the Jesus Inn rotated in and out of the kitchen all night helping diligent Pastor Tina and Betty Poole cook the soufflé and assist John Slaton (from St. Marys) cook the mashed potatoes. Geraldine Jones was up all night assisting and cooking green beans. John Sprangel, Tina’s assistant, and Rob Roy McGregor baked 67 trays of dressing in First United Methodist Church of Vidalia’s kitchen. Vidalia High School’s Tina Wheeler & crew heated the turkey trays and made the giblet gravy early in the morning in the Vidalia High School kitchen. Then they were all gathered and returned to the Storehouse to be rewarmed before serving. It was a citywide effort!
Director Houser had planned to feed 1,800 people this year. Last year 1,676 guests attended the event. This year the number decreased to 1,515. This was most likely due to COVID restrictions being lifted and families being able to get back together with their own dinners. (Check with the center if you would like a frozen pan of the leftover food.)
The coordination and generosity of the community, to make this dinner happen, was staggering. It all began back in October. Randy Deloach Farms donated a pickup-truck load of sweet potatoes. Tommy Proctor stored the potatoes. Residents of the Jesus Inn and volunteers Bob Smith, Willie Mincey, and Carolyn Greenwood, peeled, boiled, and prepared 60 of the large deepdish pans of sweet potatoes for the soufflé.
Ashley Crump, staff and students of J.D. Dickerson Primary School provided hundreds of cans of Carnation milk and cranberries, as well as boxed JiffyMixcornbread. Dot Foods was so gracious once again. They stored all the uncooked turkeys in their freezers for us and patiently allowed us to get 24 turkeys a day to cook. Dot Foods also donated cases of dinner rolls, green beans, butter, potatoes, and desserts. Sam Page of Copper Construction Inc. purchased most of the supplies, including 150 turkeys, sausage for the dressing, Corn Flakes and coconut for the sweet potato soufflé, cakes, and tea. Sam stated that “Whenever he blesses us by buying whatever the Storehouse needs, his business takes off!” Generation Farms donated 50 pounds of onions that were tearfully peeled and chopped. Lynn Thompson, of Oxford Industries in Lyons, prepared 36 gallons of concentrated sweet iced tea. Other donors included Ameris Bank which donated pallets of canned goods. Dot Foods donated $5,000 worth of food through their Neighbor-Neighbor program for our monthly food program. The Vidalia Women of the Moose Lodge contributed. Many churches of Vidalia support God’s Storehouse all year and are particularly generous at Thanksgiving. Liberty Baptist Church in Lyons, Grace United Methodist, Vidalia Church of God, and First Methodist Church of Vidalia were incredibly gracious. Canned goods drives were done by J.D. Dickerson’s young men’s group (headed up by Michael Johnson), the Boy Scouts, and Title Max. Endless patrons supported the event with their time and generous financial contributions.
I know I left out numerous people who donated canned goods, turkeys, and cash, but they all stored up treasures in heaven for their future. We thank God that He knows who did what, because it is nearly impossible to remember and acknowledge all the citizens of Vidalia that have supported this effort. Including this paper and a number of radio stations that advertised this event.
Our next effort is collecting 500 new toys for Christmas. If you would like to donate new toys for children nine yearsold and under, call John or Tina at (912) 538-1730.
I have never experienced a community that is so giving and empathetic to those society has forgotten sometimes. By supporting the mission at God’s Storehouse & The Jesus Inn Recovery Center you are being responsible kingdom servants and giving the less-fortunate hope. We will never know how many lives we actually impact.
Thank you, citizens, churches, businesses, and schools for practicing faithful stewardship. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). We cannot thank all of you enough but rest assured that the Father does. It has been very rough the last two years, but I pray that you and yours had much to be thankful for. John Sprangel Assistant to the Director God’s Storehouse and The Jesus Inn