Noon Exchange Club Hosts 25th annual Feast of Sharing
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Hundreds of people filled the Copperas Cove Civic Center for the 25th annual Feast of Sharing hosted by the Noon Exchange Club of Copperas Cove last Thursday evening.
This year’s feast marked the return to a dine-in only meal, after two years of a drive-through style meal pick-up due to COVID-19 concerns.
Inside the Civic Center, members of the community waited in line for a meal with all of the fixings, from green beans to sweet potatoes to turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce, plus a slice of pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Others gathered around tables with friends and family and strangers alike, enjoying their meal as they listened to alternating musical entertainment from the Copperas Cove High School Choir and Copperas Cove High School Pride of Cove Marching Band.
Ira Brand, president of the Noon Exchange Club of Copperas Cove, said that it was good to be back to dining in person.
The Noon Exchange Club is a civil organization whose sole purpose is child abuse prevention.
“What we do primarily is raise money through various events, and we take the money and we give it to the Rainbow Room, Communities in Schools, etc. We’ve get five or six different organizations that we give money to. That’s our purpose,” Brand said. “Now, [Feast of Sharing] is an event that we do that’s kind of a feel good community event, because we don’t make any money. We spend money.”
The Noon Exchange Club splits the cost of the Feast of Sharing with the City of Copperas Cove, he added.
“It’s an event where we get to say thanks to the community,” Brand said. “We’ve got a great community here. We got a lot of a very kind diverse group. It is the only place you’ll go where you’ll have a millionaire sitting next to a person that is a paycheck away from homelessness, sitting down at a table having a meal together, because there’s no qualifications to get in. Everybody’s welcome, and it’s free.”
Brand said he felt it is important for the Noon Exchange Club to keep offering the Feast of Sharing year after year because it is something that people can look forward to.
“It’s important just to as a community to see your neighbors, sit next to them or a stranger or friend,” Brand said. “Some families come. Some people come alone, and once you’re sitting at a table, at a round table, the conversations start. That’s the beginning of understanding your fellow man is talking to him.”
Pat Thomas has been volunteering at the Feast of Sharing for the past six or seven years. She is the last charter member of the Noon Exchange Club, she said. She was also happy to have the community meal return to in-person dining.
“It’s wonderful,” Thomas said. “COVID slowed us down a little bit, but we just stepped right back into it.”
Thomas added that she missed being able to get close to people and share in the holiday cheer during the event.
Shana Frei attended the Feast of Sharing with her two daughters, her mother and her sister. The Feast of Sharing has become a family tradition for Frei and her family, she said. They have come each year for the past four years or so.
“It’s a fun pre-Thanksgiving thing,” Frei said. “They [her daughters] think it’s a big deal they get to sit around and eat together and get to go along and pick out what you want on your plate. It’s just a fun thing to do with your family.”
Frei added that she liked that it was open to everyone, no qualifications necessary.
“It’s nice that you can come out and hear the choir, and it kind of gets you in the mood for the holidays,” Frei said.
The Noon Exchange Club of Copperas Cove meets the second and fourth Fridays of each month at Lil’ Tex Restaurant at 12 p.m.