Exchange Club holds annual Feast of Sharing

Cove Leader-Press

The Noon Exchange Club and the City of Copperas Cove hosted the 20th annual Feast of Sharing Thursday evening at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, serving several hundreds of people. 
The event was catered by Big Daddy and Sons Catering, with tea provided by Bush’s Chicken and pumpkin pie donated by H-E-B. Held the Thursday before Thanksgiving every year, the meal was free and open to the public. Guests enjoyed ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, yams, corn, cranberry sauce and rolls as well as a beverage and a slice of pie. 
When the event first started 20 years ago, it was for low-income families and the city and the Noon Exchange Club cooked the Thanksgiving meals themselves, according to club President Mike Blount.   
Last year’s event served 658 people. This year, they prepared enough food to feed around 700. There was some concern before the event over having enough food, after past president Inez Faison posted information about the event to Facebook and within eight hours, received 1,900 views, she said. If they ran out of food, Faison joked that then she would order pizzas for everyone. Luckily, that was not the case. 
By 7 p.m., the line for food had shortened and the number of serving lines had gone from two to one.  
Any leftovers would be given to those helping with the Food for Families event held the next day, according to Blount. 
Volunteers, made up of members of the Noon Exchange Club, the Copperas Cove High School Excel Club and the High School United Teens for Service (HUTS) Excel Club, served food, helped seat people, assisted those who couldn’t stand in line by standing for them and picked up trash from the tables. 
Faison said that the impact this event had on the community offered a special opportunity to residents. 
“I think it’s an opportunity for everyone, no matter what walk of life you’re from- whether it’s low income, very wealthy, white, black, Catholic, Protestant- it’s an opportunity for the entire community to come together, break bread (one of the symbols of the American people) and have a good time,” Faison said. 
Blount agreed and said the event helped bring everyone in the community together, which he felt was needed because there is too much division in the country today, he added. 
“We have people of all races, all backgrounds sitting at the same table, talking to one another because no one gets mad over a good plate of food,” Blount said.
Blount pointed out the number of people who had finished eating and were just sitting and talking with each other. 
Susan McCollough was there with her daughter Autumn, and Ashley Bodenhoefer and her four children, Aiden, Kaden, Mason and Katarina. McCollough said she found out about the event at a local food bank and thought it was an amazing event, and Bodenhoefer said she thought more cities should offer something like this dinner. 
“It’s a meal but then we actually get to just relax and enjoy which that’s not really a common thing when you’re coming from this big of a family,” McCollough said. 
Shonda Roberts was also there with her four children. Roberts, who is new to Copperas Cove, said that she would definitely be back next year. 
“I didn’t have to cook dinner tonight, the kids are happy, so why not,” Roberts said. 
Roberts added that she thought the event was great for the community because she met people and made new friends while eating. 

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