Willow Praise Thanksgiving Meal

Now that the summer is behind us, the days are shorter, the air crisp. Our thoughts turn to the holidays. It is hard to imagine that Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Willow Praise Church in Willowick will be hosting its annual Community Thanksgiving Meal on Thursday November 26 from 12pm- 2pm. This is their 15th year of serving free Thanksgiving meals.

Willow Praise Church has been in western Lake county or over 20 years, guided by the heart and hands of Senior Pastor Larry Bogenrief.  He and his family are not only members of the community in which they live and work; they also care about the needs of those around them. They have a vision of 24\7 care, serving in times of disaster, as well as the day-to-day needs of the community.  The Thanksgiving meal came about because they encountered people who were spending the holiday alone or isolated because they were house-bound.  So, Willow Praise church wanted to reach out and let them know they were not alone. It was more about encouragement and connection than it was about food. And, that is still true today.

In 2014, they delivered hundreds of meals to shut-in’s, local police and fire departments and two local apartment complexes. They also served hundreds more in their fellowship hall. “We set up our hall with individual tables, decorated for the holiday. We had volunteers escort them to the tables. They were served their choice of beverages, a complete hot meal of turkey and all the fixings. We even had a wide array of pies for dessert.” said Laura Pistoor, Thanksgiving Coordinator. “We wanted our guests to feel special because, quite frankly, they are just that. Our goal is to love our neighbors, to truly love them. For us, it’s not just words.”  This year, they are looking to expand their deliveries, to seek out those individuals that are shut-in, lonely and alone.  They want to bring more people into their hall to be served with love. Also, there are many people that want to enjoy the company of others while eating. They are not shut-in’s, per se, but have limited transportation. So Willow Praise is looking to serve those people in their local apartment complexes.

“None of this would be possible without the dedication of our remarkable and valued volunteers.” said Pastor Larry, “The power of giving is an amazing way to truly embrace what Thanksgiving is all about. It transcends from ‘just another holiday’ into an experience that connects us with our community in a personal way.” In fact, those volunteers made it possible to serve over 830 Thanksgiving meals in 2014. And, to make it all happen, they cooked and carved 50 turkeys, peeled, mashed and cooked 300 pounds of potatoes, cooked and prepared 300 pounds of sweet potatoes, cooked 120 pounds of corns, dried and crumbled 500 rolls for stuffing, sliced 150 cans of cranberry sauce, made 20 gallons of gravy and used 40 pounds of butter. And, that does not even include beverages and dessert (they sliced over 70 pies). 

They not only serve an outstanding Thanksgiving meal. Willow Praise Church also has a huge thrift store, Thrifty on the Vine, which sells everything from clothing to furniture.  Free community meals are served every Tuesday at 5:30pm, as well as the 4th Sunday of the month at 12:30pm. And, a free Mobile Pantry is held the 4th Saturday of every month from 8am – 12pm. 

Willow Praise is looking for people in western Lake County, as well as the Euclid area of Cuyahoga County, that may need a meal for Thanksgiving. This includes apartment complexes that may have a large number of residents that want to eat together as a community.  Of course, volunteers are always needed. Please call Willow Praise Church at 440-944-5683. Or, you can contact Laura Pistoor by calling 440-951-7008 or email LpistoorWP@gmail.com.

Myrtis Walker

Church member of Willow Praise

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Volume 7, Issue 11, Posted 6:53 PM, 11.07.2016