Dumfries, Virginia – At the first annual #WeSERVE Turkey Giveaway hosted by Praise Center Church Of God In Christ on November 22, 2016, hugs and "thank you's" overflowed in the town of Dumfries as families in need were blessed with free turkeys and boxes of food items. "You don't know how much this was needed," said one young mother as eyes of her young boys enlarged upon seeing the big turkey and box of trimmings. Family after family expressed this same sentiment as they flowed through the door, "This is really a blessing!" Many were only expecting to receive a turkey, but left with so much more.
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#WeSERVE, a progressive Community Development Corporation of Praise Center Church and manages the Praise Food Pantry, with the support of the Capital Area Food Bank and the Woodbridge Walmart, distributed over 90 turkeys and food boxes to families from throughout Northern Virginia. What began as a dream for Pastor Eugene C. McCown, Jr., during conversations in the Spring of 2016, came to fruition several months later with much prayer and planning.
Prior to the giveaway, Praise Center Church provided coupons to Dumfries Elementary School, Graham Park Middle School, and the Prince William County's Juvenile Pre-Trial Supervision Program, to assure that those in need would receive the needed assistance. "I won, I won," one young girl proclaimed as she entered in ecstaticly with her winning coupon. Upon hearing the young girls excitement, others too display their winning tickets.
For the members of Praise Center Church, the distribution preparation began at the beginning of November as donations from Walmart were sorted, boxed and stored. On the morning of the distribution, Pastor McCown and Missy Myrna Howard picked up the turkeys and donated carrots from the Capital Area Food Bank. At Praise Center, members organized the lobby to handle the anticipated overflow, while also preparing prayer cards in case someone wanted to leave a prayer request. Nearly an hour before the doors open, people representing every age, ethnicity and color began to line up at the church. Before the doors were open, Pastor McCown prayed and thanked God for the opportunity to be able to serve those in need and be a blessing to the community.
Everyone that came received a turkey with no questions asked, even those without coupons. Praise Center offered a simple questionnaire to help #WeSERVE better understand how to meet the needs of those in the community. In addition to the support from the Capital Area Food Band and Walmart, Pastor Bryan Jones of Victorious Overcomers Ministries COGIC and Pastor Quentin Battle Destiny Reachers COGIC attended and provided their support.
"This is real ministry and this is just the beginning," said Pastor McCown as he spoke with Pastor Jones and Pastor Battle at the conclusion of the giveaway. "We have been called to serve," referencing the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:11 – "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant."
The #WeSERVE Praise Pantry distributes free food and USDA every 1st Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.