Hinesville officials didn’t have to look too far to find a theme for the city’s 14th annual Mayor’s Thanksgiving Program on Sunday at Hinesville First Methodist Church.
It blew through town Oct. 7-8.
"This year’s even theme is ‘Rising from the Storm," said Brittany McClure, who manages Hinesville’s public affairs. "It will focus on our community’s efforts to overcome Hurricane Matthew."
The storm, a category 2 when it sailed up the Georgia coast, blew down trees and power lines and caused damage to homes and businesses in Liberty and Long counties. There were widespread power outages for days, and afterward both counties were among those in Coastal Georgia to be declared disaster areas, making residents, businesses and the government eligible for financial help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Small Business Administration.
But as cleanup and recovery efforts apparently will continue into the holidays, the officially titled "Annual Service of Songs, Prayers and Thanksgiving" will join city, county and state officials with the church community, representatives from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield and the community in what McClure called "a wonderful tradition," and "a service that celebrates diversity and gratitude."
"This year … our speakers plan to reflect on our community’s perseverance and strength in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew," she said.
Speakers at the program, which is from 6 to 7:15 p.m., will include state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette and Hinesville Mayor Alan Brown. Military and church leaders are also expected to speak, and Pastor Richard Hayes of New Day Community Church will be the master of ceremony.
Offerings collected during the program will benefit the United Way of the Coastal Empire-Liberty County, McClure said.
The Mayor’s Thanksgiving Program was started in 2002 under then-mayor Tom Ratcliffe and is a partnership between the city and the Liberty County Ministerial Alliance, McClure said.
Each year, proceeds benefit a local community service organization.