As they do every year, many Hernando County churches have stepped up to ensure that no one goes hungry during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Lonely, homeless or financially challenged people may attend and partake of the feasts for free. Those who have been blessed this year with enough to share may donate food or cash to help feed others.
A few churches are using a Thanksgiving meal as a means of community outreach — a way for people to get to know one another better and learn more about the church.
• Christ the King Full Gospel Worship Center will host a dinner at 4 p.m. at the Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St., Brooksville.
"Our economy and rising unemployment have caused a lot of people to lose their jobs, their homes and much more," said pastor Allen Sabo. "We are extending an invitation to those who are truly in need of a Thanksgiving meal and those who have found themselves homeless."
Call (352) 596-5366 for more information.
• Love Your Neighbor will have its annual Thanksgiving dinner from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Rising Sun Cafe, 10 S Main St., Brooksville.
"This is wide open to anybody," John Callea said. "Even more than feeding people, what we're about is building relationships, ministering to people and trying to get people back on their feet again."
Callea, who heads a ministry that feeds about 200 people weekly, noted that many of the organization's dinner guests are seniors who come for the fellowship.
Men of Faith, from Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church, have volunteered to cook the turkeys for the Thanksgiving dinner.
Those who would like to donate turkeys or other items for the meal and baskets of food that will be given out at a later date, or those who want to volunteer or make a cash donation, should call Callea at (352) 428-9434.
• Bridge Christian Life Center, 7279 Pinehurst Drive, Spring Hill, will serve a meal to about 250 people from 4 to 6 p.m.
"The meal is being put on by the Bridge (church) for the community to come and just enjoy a free Thanksgiving dinner — to meet neighbors, have fellowship, see what our church is all about and have a really good time and a nice meal," said Jaima Kunz, administrative assistant.
While it is not necessary to make reservations, calls would be appreciated for planning purposes. Call between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekdays at (352) 683-2863.
• Christian Life Assembly of God's Jesus and Me ministry will sponsor a community Thanksgiving dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Jerome Brown Community Center in Tom Varn Park, 306 Darby Lane, Brooksville.
A turkey dinner with all the trimmings will be served by the Spring Hill group. There also will be entertainment by nationally known Christian comedian/magician Dwayne Hill and an original multimedia production titled "Decision Eternity."
Register for the event by Thursday by calling (352) 345-7285.
• Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 6193 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, will serve a dinner from 4 to 6 p.m.
There will be a Thanksgiving service after the meal for those who wish to attend.
"At last year's dinner, we celebrated Thanksgiving with 200 people," said pastor Tim Orrell. "If our food pantry is any indication, this year we may see twice that many. It is heartwarming to see how the community is coming together to support one another."
For more information, call (352) 683-9016.
• Grace World Outreach Church, 20366 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, will host a dinner from 6 to 8 p.m.
"We are hoping to feed 200 people," said Dorothy Durand, event coordinator. "We want to show the love of God to his lost and needy in a tangible way."
Those wishing to help with beverage and dessert items should bring them to the church the night of the dinner.
"We will have some contemporary Christian music playing, folks serving those seated at the tables and people available to pray for the needs of the lost," Durand said.
For more information, call (352) 796-3685.
Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving Day)
• For the fifth year, True Holiness Church of Jesus Christ, 15500 Wiscon Road, Brooksville, will host a "Feed the Five Thousand" dinner from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
"We really want to have more of an impact on families and individuals that may be homeless or don't have food to come and share Thanksgiving Day with us," said Sonia Lynch-Dillard, event coordinator. "We have some orders that came in requesting food to be delivered. Any way that we can, we want to help, whether they come to sit and eat with us or if we can get food out to them."
The event is in partnership with Springs of Life Church, the African-American Spring Hill Cemetery Association, Paul and Jerry's Storage, Neighborhood Council 34606 and Eagle Scout Joshua Poland.
Donations of food items and cash are appreciated. Call (352) 279-8313 or (352) 279-5837.
• St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, 5030 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill, will serve a meal at 1 p.m. Dinners will also be delivered to those who are shut in or in a shelter if they request it by calling (352) 686-9954, ext. 416. Callers should leave their name, address with ZIP code and phone number.
"This is our 14th year doing this dinner," said Jim Yeske, who coordinates the meal with Fred Glass. "It's for people that are homeless or down on their luck or single people who have nobody to share Thanksgiving with them."
Those who plan to attend the meal should call by the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
• Starting Pointe Church is having a canned food drive with the Hernando County Family YMCA to fill Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets.
"Last year, we were able to help with 165 baskets, and we would love to do many more," said pastor Jeff Moore.
Donations may be taken to the YMCA, 1300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill, during business hours or during Sunday morning church services there at 9 a.m.
Cash or check donations are also welcome. Call (352) 428-9241 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Shine the Light Ministries is also accepting donations of goods and cash to help families in need this holiday season.
"We're planning on filling as many boxes as we can to make a difference in the lives of as many families as we can," said Jeff Pasmore, head of the ministry.
Drop off items at 8447 Blackstone St., Spring Hill, or call (352) 279-3449 to have items picked up.