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      Church welcomes the lonely for Thanksgiving dinner

      You may think it's a chore getting your Thanksgiving dinner ready, but imagine preparing a holiday meal for 300 people.

      That was the challenge facing members of Lowcountry Community Church in Murrells Inlet, where church volunteers had plenty of work on their hands Wednesday preparing that free holiday meal.

      What's it take to prepare a dinner like that? You have to start with the right ingredients.

      "We have 25 turkeys, I think it's probably more like 30 turkeys being cooked right now on the grill," said church trustee Louise Goodman.

      "You want to make sure that each person has at least one roll, so we bought 300, 350 rolls. In terms of stuffing, we've had some people today chopping up five pound bags of onions and multiple stalks of celery. We think about what the average size and how many slices you can get out of a pumpkin pie, so I believe they bought about 20, 25 pumpkin pies and apple pies. And so it just takes a lot of planning up front to make sure that you have an adequate amount of servings for each person who will be coming through our line."

      The menu wouldn't be complete without a serving of love and a healthy portion of welcome, especially for those who have nowhere else to go on Thanksgiving day.

      "And we want to offer an environment where they can feel like they're with family," Goodman said.

      This is the third year for the community dinner, which church members have dubbed "Project NOAH", for No One Alone for the Holidays.

      Goodman says a lot of people are hurting right now, hurting financially or through the recent loss of a loved one. Those are the people the church is trying to reach, she said.

      Other volunteers say their work preparing the dinner is well worth the effort, if it helps bring some joy to others on the Thanksgiving holiday.

      "Anything that you can do for someone that puts a smile on their face and makes them feel like they belong somewhere, yeah, it just gives you overwhelming joy," said church member David Hester.

      Goodman says the church welcomes those who have lost jobs, lost dreams or maybe lost hope, and church members want to give those folks a place where they can see that someone cares.

      The Lowcountry Community Church dinner will be served from noon to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving day.

      Here's a list of other community Thanksgiving dinners in our area.