CCLP/LYNETTE SOWELL - Covites make their way through the line as they pick up baskets of food collected by the Refuge Corporation

Refuge Corporation distributes Thanksgiving baskets

Cove Leader-Press
The line at the Copperas Cove Civic Center stretched from the doors, around the side of the building and into the parking lot on Tuesday afternoon.
Those in line were there to receive a Thanksgiving dinner basket, complete with turkey and all the fixings, along with other items for the pantry, thanks to Refuge Corporation, the outreach arm of Christian House of Prayer.
Constance Smith, one of the event’s organizers with Refuge Corp., said it wasn’t to their credit alone, but other churches and organizations in the city who stepped up to help 500 families have a Thanksgiving dinner on the table this year.
She oversaw a lineup more than 100 volunteers from the community who came out to help prepare and distribute the baskets.
“This is a community event. We have church members from all over the city volunteering, people from Fort Hood, the Copperas Cove 4-H Club, all people who care,” she said. Volunteers spent time packing 500 bags with food and also assembling a table of “extras” which those receiving baskets could choose from on the way to pick up a frozen
The individuals receiving baskets, or “guests”, as Smith called them, each had an escort paired up with them after the guests cleared registration.
“The escorts carry everything for the guests; the only thing one of our guests carries is a coat, if they choose one,” Smith said, pointing to some racks along the far wall of the civic center. “They carry everything all the way to the car, then come back inside and help someone else.”
Basket recipients pre-registered with Refuge Corporation to demonstrate need, but Smith said they did take walk-ins. To gain admission, each person receiving a basket had to show photo identification.
The first Thanksgiving basket distribution by Refuge Corporation 22 years ago was held in the gymnasium at Christian House of Prayer, but swiftly outgrew that venue to where it is today.
“The city is so good to us,” Smith said, adding that they use the civic center the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving annually.
“We spend Monday getting set up, bringing the food donations in. Then on Tuesday morning, the turkeys arrive. It’s quite a sight to see 500 turkeys being unloaded from the back of a truck,” she added.
James Hay waited at the head of the line of escorts, ready to help guests receive their Thanksgiving baskets. Volunteering is not new for Hay, who is stationed at Fort Hood and is part of the 96th Transportation Company, 1st Cavalry’s sustainment brigade. This is his fifth duty station away from home and he plans to spend Thanksgiving with friends.
“I just like volunteering and helping out,” Hay said. “Our first sergeant said they needed some volunteers, so I said I’d come out. I think we sent 12 people from our company.”
Right behind Hay, also prepared to tote food bags and turkeys, was Frank Henicke, who attends Christian House of Prayer, who is volunteering for the second year at this event.
“I did this last year,” he said. “It’s good to help people, to get involved with the community. it’s a real blessing to be able to give to the community.”
Smith spoke to the testimony of the city’s groups and volunteers like Hay and Henicke coming together to help feed 500 families.
“We’ve gotten donations and help from churches, individuals, My Brother’s House, Baptist Benevolence, and more. I’d hate to mention someone and leave someone out,” she said. “We’re all better together.”

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