Lord of Harvest feeds hundreds for Thanksgiving

Nov. 22, 2012 @ 06:22 PM

Twenty years after Dom Duarte started the annual Lord of the Harvest Thanksgiving dinner, the event continues to feed hundreds and with multiple volunteers returning year after year.

As he has in past years, Thom Duarte, brother of Dom Duarte, and an organizer for the event, greeted visitors as they arrived either to sit down and eat or to help with serving and other aspects of the meal.

Though Dom Duarte is now deceased, the event he helped start has continued on year after year and has grown.

"We had a great turnout for to-go meals," Thom Duarte said.

In all they delivered around 300 to-go meals that went to people who were unable to come out to the Union County Shrine Club for the event. He enjoys being able to be a part of the event each year and to greet all the different people and volunteers who come by.

"We've served 400 so far," Deb Stein, another coordinator of the event who works with Operation Reach Out, said around 11:30 a.m. Thursday. 

The event was held at the Union County Shrine Club on Phifer Street with doors opening at 11:30 a.m. to those interested in enjoying the Thanksgiving meal offered or volunteering to help with serving and other tasks. Various organizations and businesses donated to the event and Union Academy students decorated and filled paper bags with crackers, applesauce packets and other items for people to take with them after leaving from the event.

"I've been in need before and that's what God has called me to do, to be a blessing in someone's life," Stein said in reference to why she regularly volunteers and helps with the event.

Like Stein, many of the event volunteers were people who had continued to come back year after year to help. Some of those dining and who had to-go meal delivered were also people who have attended or benefitted from the event before. There were also a good number of people who came out for the first time to either eat or volunteer Thursday.

Frank Marino has volunteered with the Lord of the Harvest event since 1996 said he continues coming back because he enjoys being part of it and helping to serve everyone who comes by.

Every year, the day of the Lord of the Harvest dinner is his happiest day of the year, he said.

"It's a blessing to give back to the community," William Self, another event volunteer, said.

He and others from Restoration House in Monroe helped with various tasks during the event.

For Diane Dunn, Thursday was the first time she's ever worked as a volunteer for the event.

"I'm blessed and I wanted to be a blessing to others," Dunn said in reference to why she wanted to volunteer Thursday.

Frankie Stowe came to the Shrine Club Thursday to enjoy the meal offered as she has in past years.

She enjoys the food as well as being able to meet and socialize with others during it.

"I just thank God there's a place we can come and communicate with each other," Stowe said.

Buster Mullis recently heard about the Lord of the Harvest meal and stopped by for the first time at the event Thursday.

"I think it's a great thing," he said.

He enjoyed the food and seeing the many different people who attended and would be interested in coming again in the future, he said.

For more information about ways to get involved with future Lord of the Harvest meals or other food serving related activities contact Stein at Operation Reach Out at 704-289-4237 or by e-mail at opreachout@aol.com.