A hot meal and a warm welcome Local church hosts Thanksgiving dinner

HARLINGEN — Jon Pyle was waiting for seconds.

He’d just enjoyed a meal of hot turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes at the First United Methodist Church, and he was more than thankful.

“I think it’s a wonderful experience that they’re having Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day,” said Pyle, 61, who had dinner Wednesday at Loaves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.

Many churches and other organizations have served Thanksgiving dinner in the days and weeks leading up to the main event. However, the First United Methodist Church at 321 E. Harrison Ave., true to form, was serving a hot meal with all the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day.

This was the 10th year the church has held the event.

“It’s going very well,” said Pastor J.J. Wicke.

“We wanted to make sure that folks will have some food to eat,” he said.

A broad range of people turned out for the meal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Some simply couldn’t cook for themselves, or perhaps just didn’t want to. Some meals were being delivered to shut-ins who couldn’t leave their homes.

Others, like David Guajardo, came simply because he likes the taste of the food – just as he’s done for several years.

“It’s awesome, it’s delicious,” said Guajardo, who was eating with his family.

“I don’t even get this at home,” he said. “I love the turkey and dressing, the mashed potatoes, the stuffing.”

A server came by with slices of pumpkin pie.

“Two for my little girls,” he said.

The server set the two slices in front of two eager girls who dove into the sweet confection.

Guajardo’s son David Vasquez, 14, was done.

“I liked the whole thing,” he said. “It was pretty good. I got to spend time with my family.”

Still, many people were there out of dire necessity – they had nowhere else to go.

Pyle, who has stayed at the Open Arms Homeless Shelter for the past month, took a look around the dining room at First United.

“About 70 percent of the people here are street people,” he said.