Feast feeds shepherd’s flock

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 27, 2010

Jim Jackson served his first heaping plate of piping hot turkey and savory dressing three years ago to a table of people who would have  been alone at Christmas had it not been for the Shepherd’s Feast.
The creation of Tryon resident Ross Fox, the Shepherd’s Feast offers a Christmas banquet to any and all in need.
“There are people who every year might be alone, but they find fellowship here,” Jackson said. “You don’t have to be financially in need to be in need.”
Former volunteer Walt Flashar agrees.
Flashar won’t be in town to volunteer this year, but said he knows he’ll miss being apart of the event.
“We weren’t going any place (for Christmas) a few years back and I felt it was a good thing to have an opportunity, not just for people who couldn’t afford to have a Christmas, but for people who were by themselves to get together with people and celebrate,” Flashar said. “There comes a time in life when it’s not feasible for some people to travel, but no one wants to be sitting in their house alone on Christmas.”
Fox launched the event after witnessing another group in Hendersonville serve 2,500 meals to those in need at the holidays.
“I found out from several sources that something like that was just as needed here,” he said. “Now, it’s evolved into something that’s a true celebration of Christmas.”
Fox anticipates feeding several hundred people from 1-4 p.m. at Polk County Middle School this Christmas.
“I’ve been calling this a place for people who just don’t want to cook,” Fox said.
That’s why he brought volunteer Mary Lyth and her husband, owners of Giardini Trattoria in Columbus, on board. Even though they serve up food every day in their restaurant, they don’t mind donning aprons yet again on Christmas.
“It’s such a wonderful thing that people donate their services and their time to make this happen,” Lyth said. “We think it’s a delightful way to celebrate Christmas actually.”
Lyth said she and her husband typically run the kitchen.
Over the years it’s become pretty easy to pull things together, though prep alone requires an entire day of work.
They direct how many pounds of cranberry sauce must be prepared and how to slice vegetables for the feast. Lyth also directs volunteers in cutting the roasted turkeys smoked each year at Mountain Barbecue.
Standing over pots of boiling potatoes, they laugh with other volunteers and find themselves enveloped by holiday spirit.
“For us in particular, bringing people together through food is who we are, it’s what we do, it’s what’s important to us. We don’t think there is any better way to create community,” she said. “It’s a lovely way to give and share, which to me is what Christmas is all about.”
The program continues to need volunteers willing to help coordinate, serve meals, help in the kitchen with food preparation, cooking, dishwashing and clean-up.
Jackson said volunteering at the event is a present in itself during the holidays.
“The connection you have with other people and seeing them enjoy themselves makes me thoroughly happy,” Jackson said.
A gift-wrapping volunteer is also needed on Thursday, Dec. 23 from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Santa Claus will be present Dec. 25 to pass out gifts to children.
If you are interested in giving your time, please call Fox at 828-859-9979. Donations are also being accepted to purchase food including more than 20 turkeys.
Those interested in making monetary contributions can make checks payable to The Shepherd’s Feast, P.O. Box 1481, Tryon, N.C. 28782. Toy donations may be brought to Polk County Middle School on Thursday, Dec. 23 from 1-4 p.m.

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