Spirit of Thanksgiving in potluck by four upper valley churches

November 23, 2011

PARKDALE - Hospitality comes in the booming voice of Mark Willems.

'May I have your attention, please? There is plenty to eat, and if you are hungry, go back and help yourself!" Willems announced about 90 minutes into the three-hour community thanksgiving meal served Sunday by four upper valley churches, at Parkdale Grange.

People from all over the valley, including many from Hood River and Odell, sat at the long tables over the full-meal-deal you come to expect in late November. And to go with your pie (endless choices, more on that in a moment) there was coffee personally poured at the table by two pastors - Willems, from Parkdale Community Church, and Bobby Beauchamp of Parkdale Baptist Church, along with Tony DeMarco, whose arm was in a sling after a recent long-boarding accident on his way to do drywall work at the Baptist Church.

"We work together to figure out how much we need," said Tina Murphy, wife of Mike Murphy, pastor at Valley Worship Center in Mt. Hood. The fourth church involved is Parkdale Church of the Nazarene.

"We make as much as the year before, and maybe a bit more to make sure everyone has enough," Tina said.

The tradition started five years ago, after the close of Mt. Hood Café, which had offered a community meal. (The only other such feast was the one put on in Hood River by Soul Café, but it closed in 2010.)

"We just like to show the love of Christ," Mike Murphy said. "A lot of people don't have families or anyone they can be with this time of year. This way, they don't have to be alone. It's an outreach to the community."

This year, nearly 200 people came in the door and friends delivered meals to about 20 shut-ins.

"We want to show people that our churches can come together and do something like this for the community," Willems said. "A big part of community is giving back.

"It's the four churches holding a potluck and anyone else who wants to join is welcome," he said.

Each congregation contributes a ham and a turkey, and the talented cooks at each congregation pitch in for the ample side dishes.

"Are there some potatoes somewhere I don't know about or should I make some more?" called out one cook as more diners came in the door, welcomed by Mike Murphy.

DeMarco also greeted people, with a fresh dose of coffee as well as brotherly expressions of his Christian faith.

Later, DeMarco would get help from Dorothy Hendrix, who served, when it was his turn to eat. Like any church potluck, with all that food, dishing up with one arm defies physical laws.

Kitchen helpers took turns bringing out fresh oven pans full of stuffing, turkey meat and vegetables. Among them was Virginia McClain, a Hood River native who grew up in Parkdale, attending high school there. She never misses the church dinner.

Virginia and Jim McClain live in Hood River but their kids were raised in Parkdale.

"This will always be home. We come back here to see everybody," she said.

Jeannie Farwig of Odell can relate. She comes every year for the sense of community.

"I enjoy seeing all the Parkdale people. I lived up here for years, and still go to church here - the little brown church," she said, referring to Parkdale Community on Baseline Drive. "I get to see characters like this guy here," she said, nudging Randy Arnold of Parkdale.

"I just like coming up here and talking with people I don't see a lot," Arnold said. "They do this every year, and they have other events."

Farwig was among many who brought a pie.

"Everyone tried to pawn my pear pie off as apple," Farwig said. "I know it looks like an apple, but it's pear. A lot of people don't realize you can make pies out of pears." She made sure she had a few truly ripe Comice pears.

"They make a really sweet pie," Farwig said.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners