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Service brings community together

CHESAPEAKE — The churches of Chesapeake gathered together to give thanksgiving for their blessings and reach out to be a blessing to those in need.

That was the purpose of the fifth annual Community Thanksgiving Service Sunday evening at Chesapeake Middle School that helps support the food pantry of the Community Mission Outreach.

This Christmas 550 eastern Lawrence County families have asked for help with their holiday meal. An offering taken during the service will go to fund those Christmas food baskets.

“Imagine having a child look with expectation and be helpless to feed him,” Donna Riddle, CMO secretary, told the audience. “They are hungry … going to bed with their stomach growling and not understanding why. The CMO tries each month to ease the situation. I pray that this year no child goes hungry.”

Many the CMO helps are those with minimum wage jobs, out-of-work because of illness or downsizing who have fallen through the cracks of government assistance programs, Riddle said.

Started in 1985 with five churches, the CMO gave away only 60 food baskets this first Christmas.

“But we have a vision for bigger things,” Donna Plybon, the CMO treasurer, said. “God answered our prayers.”

Today the CMO has 15 eastern Lawrence County churches as members with a food pantry headquartered in the Chesapeake Community Center.

In 2008, it helped 4,141 families in 2008 and so far 3,237 have come through its doors.

Throughout the year the CMO provides food on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays after the 15th of each month.

About 150 attended the service where ministers from the member churches participated with the Thanksgiving Meditation given by Daryl Fourman of Chesapeake Methodist.

“Even when all the chips are down, a person can sill give thanks to God, who has delivered him from evil,” Fourman said. “America is still an oasis of plenty in a world of want. (We should) give thanks not only with our lips, but our actions.”

Charles Bell of Chesapeake has attended every community service since its inception and praises the work of the CMO. Bell is the founder of Compassionate Ministries, a food pantry based in Chesapeake Church of the Nazarene.

“They help people in need. When they do is a great thing. They do what I do, but on a bigger scale,” Bell said. “When you are helping God’s children. You can’t go wrong.”