NEWBERRY COUNTY — Over at a restaurant on C.R. Koon Highway in Prosperity, the parking lot was full and plenty of people were bustling around inside but there was no monetary profit being made at the first Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.
Dee’s Restaurant partnered with the Newberry DSS for a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and those in need starting at 11 a.m. Restaurant employees and volunteers from the community gave up about half their Thanksgiving Day to help.
The community also served Sistercare families, widows and widowers, said Dee Hamm, owner of Dee’s.
“I think we are all called to serve and take care of others,” Hamm said about her reason for hosting the dinner.
Hamm pointed to the wall with a Leo Buscaglia quote painted on her wall: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
“This is how I live and do business,” Hamm said about the quote.
Hamm said teens from the Wightman U.M.C. youth group also volunteered to help out.
Alli Bolan is one of the Wightman U.M.C. youths who just decided to help.
“I can give up a couple of hours. There’s enough hungry people that go to bed hungry,” said Bolan. She said the idea was presented to her youth group as an opportunity to serve.
Before the dinner began, Hamm prayed with all the volunteers and encouraged them to serve each and every person.
“We have over 100 homeless documented people living in the woods (in Newberry County). I don’t know about you but I’ve been thankful for the heat. They don’t have half of what they need but they survive. I feel like God calls us to take care of each other. The blessings are in here,” said Hamm, pointing to her heart. “I want each on you right now to serve one another. If we serve one or serve 100, we are called here to do what were meant to do.”
Hamm plans to do this again next year as long as she is able.
“I will do this again next year as long as my restaurant is open,” said Hamm. “Anybody who walks through that door can eat. It’s not about money.”
One woman who received her meal showed her appreciation saying, “Y’all made my day to see your smiling faces.”
“We just think it’s a great thing to do, to serve these people. When you feel so blessed, you want to bless other people,” said Anna Marie Doying who volunteered with her husband, George, and their daughter, Rebekah.
The Spicers made this a part of their Thanksgiving celebration. Jeremy and Ann Spicer along with Jami Long all work at the restaurant and didn’t have to think twice about volunteering. Later they celebrated Thanksgiving with their family and friends.
“She’s always trying to reach out,” said Ann, who describes working at the restaurant as a family atmosphere.
Volunteer Dannette Poole is a regular customer who heard about the service opportunity and decided to help.
“This year, my mom passed away and my husband is working and I just wanted to do something to pass on my blessings instead of sitting at home. It does my heart good to give to others. I can’t give a lot of money but I can give from my heart. I just wanted to be available to those less fortunate,” said Poole.
DSS is still collecting winter clothes and blankets for the homeless at DSS on Wilson Road or at the Hampton Inn downtown.
For more information about helping the homeless, stop by DSS or Hampton Inn about donating winter wear or the Point in Time homeless count in January. The homeless count conducted as part of the Midlands Area Consortium for the Homeless.