WESTWOOD, N.J -- No reservations are needed for a special dinner being served this Thursday by a Westwood church.
Everyone is welcome at the monthly “Circle of Friends” dinner at Parkside Community Church, beginning at 6 p.m.
You could be in financial straits -- or simply need a break from cooking for one night. Maybe you're tired of eating alone.
The menu includes a hot entrée served with vegetables, bread, salad and assorted desserts.
"It has been a terrific outreach to many who are struggling, but not enough people know about it despite some of our various efforts to get the word out," Pastor Rodney Haveman said.
“When we started this over three years ago, we had no idea how many people would show up or how successful we would be at reaching those who could benefit most," Haveman told Daily Voice. "Initially only a handful of people came. But over time it has grown to an average attendance of 40-50 people."
Volunteers include Boy and Girl Scouts, members of local high school clubs and confirmation-class students from a few area churches. Attendees can come from anywhere, not just Westwood.
"We don't use the dinner to in any way try to increase our membership or proselytize to people," Haveman said. "It's strictly for feeding people in an atmosphere of love and service.
"Some people who are struggling to make ends meet sometimes make choices between paying their gas bills or buying food," the pastor said. "We're filling a very real need in the community, while enabling our church to live out its call to be the hands and feet of Christ by serving 'the least of these.'
"One of the best outcomes of these dinners -- besides the food, of course -- is that we see some real fellowship. New bonds are developed," he said. "That’s why we call it a 'Circle of Friends' dinner.”
This ministry is funded primarily by the church but also accepts tax-deductible donations from individuals and businesses. Any other clubs or civic organizations that want to co-sponsor a dinner can contact Haveman directly: (201) 666-8998 .
(With the exception of November and December, the community dinners are always held on the third Thursday of every month.)
Parkside members Lew and Evelyn Trebour and George Tomko ordinarily handle the cooking. But volunteers who like to cook and/or serve -- "with a heart for hospitality," as Haveman put it -- are always needed and welcome. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (include a contact phone number).
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