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franklin county times

Making some people thankful

By By Kim West
October is my favorite month because of the weather and jam-packed sports calendar, but Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.
I enjoy the other holidays, especially Christmas, but I just think Thanksgiving is in a class of its own because it hasn't been commercialized yet.
The other night I was watching a first-season episode of "Grey's Anatomy" that featured a critically ill patient who didn't have any family left to visit her, and that made me think of all the people out there who have to spend Thanksgiving without family.
I know friends can become a part of your family, but I think family is more special because sometimes you outgrow friendships. It's comforting to know that 10 years from now, I can still show up to a Thanksgiving feast with the West clan no matter how much things change.
It really bothers me that a lot of people don't get to experience that type of Thanksgiving, but there are ways to help. I was happy to find out this week that Franklin County also has a restaurant that will be serving Thanksgiving meals to the community. Mountain View Baptist Church in Phil Campbell is sponsoring a free dinner at the Chat 'n Chew from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Since 2001, the Stutts family has opened their downtown Florence restaurant, Jen's Cafe, on Thanksgiving and served home-cooked food from late morning to early evening. The first year, the family fed approximately 250 people. Last year, that number was over 2,000.
For the first few years, I couldn't actually volunteer that day because of my family's get-together. But starting last year, Thanksgiving moved into the capable hands of my Uncle Pat and Aunt Peggy, who also live in Birmingham. Their family has a tradition of spending the Thanksgiving holiday on a camping trip, so Thanksgiving was switched to the preceding Sunday.
The switch allowed me to check out the Jen's Cafe tradition firsthand. So last year my friend Mounia and I helped plate hundreds of pies and cakes and serving food, stirring dressing and packing to-go boxes.
Not only did we get to eat plenty of free food, which is just as good as money to a college student, but we also got to see how a little bit of candied yams and smoked ham can make a difference for people who might have spent Thanksgiving lonely and eating takeout pizza or going to a fast-food restaurant.