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Church fighting hard times at Thanksgiving

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POSTED: December 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Photo by Lewis Levine/

The boxes that Bethel gave out included most of the fixings for traditional Thanksgiving meals.

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If it wasn’t for the caring congregation of Bethel AME church in Hinesville, this Thanksgiving would have been a bleak one for Leslie Bradley and son Trevon.
On Monday afternoon, the church on Gause Street opened its doors to members of the community, offering ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings.
Bradley arrived at the church shortly before 5 p.m. to claim an 11-pound turkey and a box of canned goods.
The former cook has fallen on hard times over the past year. Suffering from arthritis and degenerative bone disease, she said she has found it difficult to hold a job. She receives a small amount of money each month from the state to pay for rent and utilities on a mobile home where she and her son live, but there is very little left over.
“Without the help of the kindhearted people in this church we wouldn’t make it,” Bradley said.
Bradley said it wasn’t too long ago when she donated some of her time and money to local charities.
“With me not being able to hold down a job, and the economy hitting us so hard, we’re the ones who need help now,” she said.
That sentiment is not lost on Bethel’s pastor, Richie Williams. In his three years at the church, he said the community’s need has grown considerably. Twenty-five families came forward to claim a Thanksgiving dinner three years ago. This year, he planned to give away 63 meals.
“This economy has hit this community hard,” Williams said. “If it wasn’t for the congregation’s benevolent funds and donations, these families who came here today may not have had anything special to eat on Thanksgiving.”
Williams said when his church’s doors opened at 4 p.m., people were lined up in the chilly afternoon air. Throughout the evening, a steady stream came to the church and left with boxes of goods.
Among them was Valerie D. Green, who said she suffers from cancer and diabetes.
“I needed items to tide me over this holiday,” Green said.
Bradley is thankful she will be able to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but is already worried about how she will make Christmas special for her son.
“I have to wake up each day with a positive attitude,” Bradley said. “I may not have what I want, but I have what I need.”
 

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