Nov. 19 – LUMBERTON – Those looking for a hot Thanksgiving meal were treated to this and more a week before the holidays at an event hosted by Top That Dessert Bar.
Hundreds of people flooded the space that once hosted JCPenney at Biggs Park Mall on Thursday for the free Thanksgiving Dinner event. Attendees were treated to a full Thanksgiving feast of turkey, dressing, gravy, rice, green beans, rolls and dessert, served by approximately 30 on-site volunteers. About $ 1,000 worth of food from local businesses made the dinner possible.
The event focused on people in need, which is not necessarily a limited group of people, said Justin Herring, organizer and owner of Top That Dessert Bar.
“I don’t like the word needy,” Herring said. “We are all in need.”
The holding of the event touched close to Herring’s home, who said he can relate to those who don’t have that large family to spend the holidays with.
“To be 100% honest, I have an immediate family but I don’t have a large family,” Herring said.
Herring said his goal is to give those in similar situations a sense of belonging.
“I like to include everyone. I want everyone to feel welcome and so no matter what, I really, really, really wanted the audience to come out. It’s literally about bringing people together. “
Many people in Robeson County, who have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic, are also experiencing a quiet holiday season, Herring said.
“The people who really started Thanksgiving are now gone, so I wanted to give the community a place to come to really feel this community embrace,” Herrings said.
After hearing about Herring’s plan, Biggs Park Mall manager Chelsea Biggs was quick to lend the space and support the cause.
“There are a lot of families who can’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Robeson County,” Biggs said. “I just heard this from local nonprofits, so if we can give a little bit back to people who can’t have meals next Thursday, then I like the idea.”
Richard Candor discovered dinner through the Robeson County Church and Community Center. He said the event was an act of “charity,” especially for those who don’t have families like him.
“It was very thoughtful,” Candor said.
The holidays will also be a quiet affair for Brenda Bullard, who said she has no family to share Thanksgiving with. Once she learned of the event via social media, she sought out two church friends in Ida Mollo and Karen Locklear to have a makeshift “friendship”.
“It’s awesome. It was really good,” she said.
Mike Pennino, a volunteer and pastor at Vertical Church, said he was very impressed with the diversity of those present, regardless of their economic status.
“It’s a blessing to be able to give back,” said Pennino.
“Every event is a ‘thank you,” Herring said. “I wouldn’t be here without the community.”