Craig Cunningham |
A diverse crowd of about 70 people from Putnam County turned out Tuesday for the county's 15th annual Thanksgiving luncheon at Wellington's. From left is Melissa Pratt, pastor of Teays Valley Church of God; Allie Sargent, guest singer and sophomore at Hurricane High School; Roger Adams, pastor of Crossroads Community Church of Winfield; and the Rev. Jeff Johnson, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church of Teays Valley. Johnson was the keynote speaker.
Daily Mail staff
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
POCA -- Dozens of people who might be more accustomed to getting together to talk business instead shared some tables Tuesday to eat turkey and stuffing.
Seventy residents of Putnam County gathered at the 15th Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon at Wellington's Restaurant.
The annual event aims to give elected officials, industry executives and small business owners, church leaders and families a chance to just enjoy a meal and thank one another for their contributions to the community.
The idea evolved with Dr. Bill Ellis, a charter member of the Putnam County Rotary Club.
Ellis had, in 1995, moved to Putnam County from Decatur, Ill., where he first saw a community Thanksgiving dinner that left a lasting impression on him.
"They had done it for 25 years in the community," Ellis said Tuesday. "There were all kinds of people there -- no one was excluded."
With the help of program leaders Bob O'Dell and Paul Mallory, Ellis and the Rotary held their first Thanksgiving dinner at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in Scott Depot.
The guest speaker that year was the Rev. J. Thomas Bickerton, then pastor of Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church in Hurricane.
On Tuesday, the Rev. Jeff A. Johnson, senior pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, gave the keynote address.
The luncheon was sponsored this year by the Rotary, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, the county commission, the Lions Club and the Kiwanis Club.
Even a decade after the event began, Ellis still gets a kick out of the concept.
"It's great you get to meet guys like the county clerk, elected officials, leaders in business, husbands, wives, pastors, some retired, some still working," Ellis said. "It's a time for people of Putnam County to come together and say thank you to each other and get a chance to meet new people."
Craig Cunningham |
Bill Ellis has been organizing the annual Thanksgiving luncheon since it started in 1995. Ellis is a charter member of the Putnam County Rotary Club.
Watts, who is originally from North Carolina, said she attended the luncheon to meet new people in the county.
One person she met, sitting right beside her, was Hurricane postmaster and Rotary member Tina McComas.
McComas took special measures to attend the luncheon this year, for the second year in a row, and even extended her usual lunch hour.
"I wanted to support the community," she said.
Guests were entertained during the meal -- a $13 deal that included the traditional turkey, potatoes and pumpkin pie -- by 15-year-old Allie Sargent, a sophomore member of Hurricane High School's show choir. She performed a solo of Natalie Grant's "I Desire."
She was invited to sing by Teays Valley Church of God Pastor Melissa Pratt, who also invited guests at Tuesday's luncheon to participate in a challenge sponsored by her church and the First Baptist Church of Hurricane.
The churches are trying to collect enough canned food to line the perimeter of their sanctuaries.
Food donated Tuesday and during the rest of the challenge will be donated to the Christian Community Cupboard food pantry in Hurricane.
Contact writer Elaine McMillion by e-mail or at 304-348-4872.<