This article and the accompanying photo provided by Moody on the Market special contributor, Nicholas Gunn.
The spirit of Thanksgiving came alive at the Second Annual Early Thanksgiving Celebration held on November 19, 2023, at the Salvation Army Benton Harbor located at 233 Michigan Street. The event, organized in collaboration with the Salvation Army, Second Chance True Gospel Ministries, and Sisters from Another Mother, brought together diverse volunteers and community members for an evening of giving and fellowship.
The Community Thanksgiving kicked off at 5:00 pm last Sunday when volunteers from various organizations, including students from Andrews University’s Pre-med club, local law enforcement, members of the Benton Harbor Lions Club, and the King Darius Mason Lodge along with others joined forces to prepare more than 200 meals for the community.
Katherine Pierre, a third-year Biology Pre-Medical Student from Andrews University, shared her motivation for volunteering, stating, “I always had a longing to be involved in the community, as community is what creates one’s sense of purpose and belonging. Being involved in an event for the community sounded like something we could involve ourselves in.”
Reflecting on the impact of volunteering, Pierre expressed, “Volunteering makes me feel like I am doing what I should be doing. God has called us to love others, and one way we can do so is by spending time involving ourselves in a cause greater than ourselves.”
Lieutenant Mario Bledsoe of the Benton Harbor Salvation Army emphasized the event’s purpose, saying, “If the Lord gave us 100 years, we want to bring it back 100 years. We want to be a blessing to those we serve every day, providing hope and meals to everyone we encounter.”
Diane Young, president of Sisters From Another Mother, spoke about the diverse participation, saying, “This year we had a ton of different people that came to volunteer and give back. Just seeing the love on the people’s faces, the folks that are here, are just loving each other, fellowshipping, enjoying themselves.”
Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey praised the event, stating, “This is a great event, and all the volunteers are doing Jesus’s work to give back to the community, to people facing challenges. Nobody wants anybody to be hungry, and all the volunteers here tonight celebrate Thanksgiving by giving back.”
Pastor Jay Haynes of Second Chance True Gospel Ministries emphasized the importance of community support, stating, “I get a chance to see a lot of folks that need a second chance. It’s our duty and God’s commandment for us to give back to our community if God has blessed us to be a blessing.”
The Second Annual Early Thanksgiving Celebration not only provided essential meals but also showed the power of unity and compassion in creating a stronger, more connected community.