February 20, 2019 ~ From Cherry Arbuckle Hoffman:
"WE DID IT!!!!! Last night our Wednesday Night Community Dinner served their 200,000 free meal at the First Christian Church in Silverton, OR. In fact our grand total after all was said and done was 200,300 dinners. Our group of volunteers are the best. They start coming in somewhere around 9:00 AM to prep food, unload boxes and move things wherever things need to be moved. Then they keep coming through our doors all day long to finish up the cooking, fine tune the deliveries, and take care of any problems. Next are the servers and the ones who will pick up dirty dishes and others who get them ready for the dishwasher. On top of that, part of our cooks stay in the kitchen making sure everything runs smoothly and keeps things clean. And don't forget who is out on the floor meeting, greeting, and hugging anyone who comes through our doors and also we oversee those who are doing community service which includes Seminarians from Mt. Angel Abbey. And EMT or Paramedic students from Chemeketa Community College. Talk about "it takes a village" and our village is amazing!!!!"
February 20th marks the Wednesday Night Dinner that we will have served over 200,000 free meals to our community.
When we started this program over 10 years ago, we never imagined where it would go. Our plan was a spaghetti dinner every Wednesday for about a month during the recession to help give a boost to those who were out of work. We also focused on a few high school students who had been staying in cars or on friend's couches. Thus, the term "couch surfing".
Our first meal was on the second Wednesday of November 2008, and then, God took over. We grew from 37 or so our first week to now serving between 300 and 500 each Wednesday night.
What started out as a church project rapidly turned into a community run function. The volunteers came pouring in to help. St. Paul's Catholic Church stepped up with monetary support and manpower, serving and cleaning up every first Wednesday of each month. The Friends Church walked in and said they would take the third Wednesday and the church up at Marcum comes in every time we have a fifth Wednesday. Then we started seeing many more volunteers from our community who did or did not belong to a church.
The Oak Street Church began their free community dinner around the same time and serves every Monday night. The food is so good and is one more place that people can go for a meal and company.
And, in the last few years, Trinity Lutheran started serving a free lunch each Saturday.
So, First Christian Church, Silverton, Oregon I personally want to thank you for opening your doors to a very important and welcome event where we have been able not only to feed with food, but, also to be a pioneer in a program that is being studied and talked about throughout our state. What you have allowed has been the beginning of what a wonderful, caring town can do to help not only people in financial need, but it has become a meeting place for all walks of life.
We can still use volunteers if anyone feels like they would like to help in a very worthy program. And if you just want to see what we are about please, please come have dinner with us and sit with others from our town and visit. I cannot begin to count how many lasting friendships have developed from just sitting and breaking bread together.