In most years, residents of North Lincoln County would have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to finding a freshly cooked Thanksgiving meal. However, COVID-19 has made options sparse.
Luckily, the community of Lincoln City and beyond have come together to make sure everyone enjoys a Thanksgiving feast.
In the wake of the Echo Mountain Complex fire, the Lincoln City Church of the Nazarene has made it their mission to help those in need. In September, they turned their church into a Fire Relief Center and have been able to provide necessary supplies and food to victims of the wildfires.
Oftentimes the church would hold drive thru events where they’d package up items and attendees would drive through to pick up their box of necessities. This sparked the idea for a drive thru Thanksgiving meal giveaway.
“We kept hearing that all the locations that normally serve food for Thanksgiving were not going to be open, and then we thought, well why don’t we use our drive thru to serve a meal that’s already prepared, since many of the fire victims don’t have access to an oven to prepare a turkey,” said Kelli Westmark, Reverend of the Lincoln City Church of the Nazarene.
Since the fires in September, the church has helped distribute over 54,000 pounds of food, so distribution was not an issue. However, preparation of the meals did create a hurdle.
“We’re just a small church and we don’t have a commercial kitchen, but luckily there’s well over a dozen community businesses that said they’d be willing to help,” Westmark said. “Donations have come from everywhere, even people we don’t even know who have dropped off money or store bought food items.”
Thanks to community partners like The Grill 1646, Olde Line Lanes, Salishan Coastal Lodge, Corner Cafe, Tillamook Church of the Nazarene, the meals will include freshly cooked dinner. Community member Judi Walton-Melcher, Don Stuart and countless volunteers also played a big role in making the Thanksgiving event possible.
On Thanksgiving day, starting at 11 a.m., anyone can drive through the church located at 1462 NW 19th St., Lincoln City to pick up a meal that includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, a roll, a slice of pie and a few other things. It will be served cold courtesy of Rusty Truck Brewery who provided their cold storage truck.
“There’s also a lot of seniors who can’t get out and fortunately we’ve had five people volunteer to be delivery drivers in Otis, Lincoln City and Depoe Bay,” Westmark said.
For deliveries, the church will need names, addressees, phone numbers and the number of meals needed. Resident have until Wednesday (Nov. 25) at noon to get on the delivery list.
There is no sign up required for the drive thru, which will start at 11 a.m. and last until all the food is gone. Westmark said they are planning to prepare at least 500 meals, possibly more depending on donations.
“We’ve posted it all over the fire relief social media pages, we’ve given out fliers at hotels where fire victims are staying to let them know we can also deliver them food,” Westmark said of how they’ve been spreading the word. “We’ve never done this before. We’re a small church so there’s no way we could do this without the community and the dozens of volunteers.
“It’s a bigger project then our church for sure. We just saw the need and figured we had enough connections to meet those needs.”
Along with the meals the church is also still operating its fire relief center for individuals affected by the fires. The center is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has all kinds of food items, clothing, crisis care kits (toiletries), bags of dog and cat food, blankets and pillows, dishes and more.
“I’m not sure how much longer we’ll continue that, it all depends on how many volunteers I have,” Westmark said. “Hopefully we can keep it open until the end of this year, because we know the need is still there.”