Adventist church serves free Thanksgiving dinners
By Kyle LoJacono
ZEPHYRHILLS — Thanksgiving is a day for people to come together and give thanks for what they have, and one local church is helping the needy do just that.
The East Pasco Seventh-day Adventist Church, located at 7333 Dairy Road in Zephyrhills, is giving away 100 turkey dinners on Thanksgiving this year. Dinner will be served in a sit-down setting at 1 p.m. at the church.
“We wanted to help people on Thanksgiving, not just on a day near it,” said Nancy Canoy, community service director at the church. “Lots of other groups do great things for the needy around the holidays, but not so many do things on Thanksgiving. We want to help them give thanks on that special day.
“We especially want to help needy families with children, the elderly and the homeless,” said Canoy, 51, who helped come up with the idea for the dinner. “We have tried to get the word out as best we can, and hopefully we’ll have lots of people show up.”
Canoy has received few reservations to this point. Those interested should call (813) 715-6356 for reservations, which are granted first come, first serve.
Canoy’s husband, Dave, has been helping her put together the dinner. The two moved to Zephyrhills in 2000, and Dave, 53, is the church’s music coordinator.
“We have been looking for a way to reach out to the community,” said Pastor Art Stagg. “It is a little daunting because we’ve never done anything like this before. You could say there is never a good time to have to do programs like this, but this is a good way to start. If people are in need we’ll help in any way we can, but we wish our help wasn’t needed by so many.”
Stagg has been the church’s pastor for eight years. The church is trying to reach out more to the needy in the community with programs like the free dinners.
“We are starting a program to help feed the homeless with the Metropolitan Ministries after the new year,” said Canoy. “So the free dinners will be our way to start our outreach program. Our church’s mission is outreach to the needy and we want to do just that.”
Florida Hospital Zephyrhills is donating eight 20-pound smoked turkeys and a few small items for the dinner. The rest the feast is coming from church members’ donations.
“Hopefully we can make it a tradition here,” Stagg said.
Church members will be cooking the food on Thanksgiving, and Stagg will say grace and a few words about Thanksgiving before the meal.
“The dinner is kind of a sacrifice because most people do things all day with their family on Thanksgiving, but I can’t wait to serve the dinners,” said Canoy. “We know the people coming for the dinner will get a lot out of it, but I think those of us that are donating food and serving it will get even more out of it.”