Television and Hallmark cards tell us that everyone is supposed to be happily surrounded by family on Christmas Day as we enjoy a big meal of turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, and a variety of desserts.
The Christian Food Bank of Salemburg wants to make at least a part of that picture come true here in Sampson County. The volunteers are holding a 4 p.m. dinner at the Laurel Lake Campground restaurant on Laurel Lake Road just outside Salemburg on Christmas Day.
Food bank volunteers meet every month on the third Saturday to give out four to five grocery bags of food to the needy. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, the group kicks into high gear, working hard to get donations of coats in October, turkeys at Thanksgiving and toys for Christmas. All three projects were hugely successful.
It was during a meeting of the CFBS board members that the idea for a Christmas dinner was first batted around.
Norman McPhail, who is on the board, remembers it like this. “It was almost Thanksgiving and someone said that next year we should hold a big Thanksgiving dinner to feed our food bank clients. Then some genius said why don’t we do it for this Christmas,” he said with a laugh.
The food bank serves approximately 700 families, and last week 275 of those that came to pick up groceries said they would be at the dinner.
McPhail said it is open to anyone who wishes to come and enjoy a good meal in a Christian, family atmosphere. “We’re having a traditional Christmas dinner, with turkey and dressing, potatoes, cranberry dressing, and desserts. We don’t want anyone to be hungry or lonely on Christmas day,” he declared.
Salem Pizza and The House of Raeford have donated almost all the food for the main meal and members of the local churches which are involved with the food bank are preparing the desserts.
Simply Southern Catering is donating the tea and the use of the building, which is the former restaurant at Laurel Lake Campground.
“The people in the community have come together to make this happen,” he said.
McPhail said the Biblical teachings to love your brother as yourself is one of the driving forces behind the Christian Food Bank of Salemburg and this Christmas Day dinner, but he also cited the book of Matthew as well. In Chapter 25:35 it states, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in …” Those verses seem to describe exactly what the CFBS is trying to do.
“If we spend Christmas Day thinking about ourselves and not others, especially those less fortunate, then I don’t think that’s what God intended,” McPhail stated.
As one of the founding CFBS board members, McPhail is big on stepping out of his Christian comfort zone and encourages others to do it too. He often talks about how important it is to do something for God that doesn’t come easy, because that is what makes you grow as a Christian, giving you a blessing right along with the people you’re trying to help.
He said that in that same board meeting in which the Christmas Day dinner was discussed, the board decided to hold a church service at the food bank each Sunday morning from 8:30-9:30.
“It’s real simple and informal. Come as you are. We have free coffee and donuts,” he encouraged. “We just love God with all our hearts.”
Everyone is invited.
Anyone who needs directions to the campground; or would like to volunteer or donate to the Christmas Day dinner or the Christian Food Bank of Salemburg can call McPhail at 910-322-5673 or Bruce Butler at 910-990-5734 or Terry Lee at 910-525-3085 or Pastor Randy Barker at 910-308-5819.