Pre-Easter Feast Feeds Nearly 400 at Second Baptist Church

Serving nearly 400 meals as part of the free Easter dinner at Second Baptist Church on Saturday, March 24 were these beaming volunteers from around the community. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

The extended Calais community was treated to an early Easter feast on Saturday, March 24th at the Second Baptist Church. This is the second year in a row that the church has hosted a free meal to celebrate Easter with, and, like last year, nearly 400 people came out to join in the meal of ham, potatoes, and mixed vegetables.

While the event took place at Second Baptist Church, it was only through the efforts of volunteers and donors from across the community that it was such a success. Among the chief organizers were Bill and Arlene Gibson, who also work each year to put together community-wide meals at Thanksgiving. When the word went out this year that the Gibsons were putting on the event again, volunteers and donors came forward without hesitation.

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of people that volunteered,” Bill Gibson said. “I didn’t have enough for them to do!” Volunteers began prepping food in the kitchen and laying out the dining area well in advance of the doors opening, working straight through to the end of the meal aside from short reprieves from the increasingly warm cooking space.

“It’s nice,” said Kathy Lyons of the experience of volunteering at the meal. “It really fills your heart.” Lyons has been a constant volunteer at similar events for many years. She said that it is especially gratifying to see older individuals that wouldn’t normally make a big meal for themselves enjoying such a feast.

“So much of the community came forward,” Bill Gibson said, describing both the volunteers and the attendees. “They came from all over the valley.” Attendees comprised all ages, from great-grandparents to near-newborns. Everyone that came was encouraged to take as much food as they wanted with them when they left.

For Gibson, the feast had special meaning. Health issues have been a steady problem for him recently and he and his wife were unsure if they would be able to help coordinate the event this year. Gibson is scheduled for heart surgery on April 5th. Recognizing that it was important to the community and themselves, the Gibsons decided to go forward with it, though Bill was restricted from assisting in the kitchen. Despite the challenges of the situation, Bill isn’t letting it get him down. “We’re already planning Thanksgiving,” he said with characteristic enthusiasm.

The Second Baptist Church was brimming with sated diners that came to enjoy a free meal of ham, potatoes and mixed vegetables courtesy of Bill and Arlene Gibson and the many donors and volunteers that made the event possible. (Photo by Lura Jackson)