Group fulfills holiday mission

CNJ Staff Photo: Liliana Castillo Nelda Ridgell came to the Lighthouse Mission Thursday for Thanksgiving dinner for the third year. “It’s a blessing,” she said. “First from God, second from (the mission).”

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

The Lighthouse Mission cooked up 38 turkeys and 20 gallons of green beans to feed 289 people Thursday during their Thanksgiving dinner.

The mission also fed an additional 250 with to-go meals, delivered by the Matt 25 Hope Center and Clovis Fire Department to shut-ins in the surrounding area.

Those who came to have Thanksgiving dinner at the mission were seated with drink orders taken and plates brought to them.

“We try to treat them good when they come to the Lighthouse,” Lighthouse Mission director Richard Gomez said.

The missions served more than double the amount of people this year, as they served about 200 meals last year.

“Holidays are sad for many people because they don’t have family. We felt we needed to be open to let people know they don’t need to be alone on Thanksgiving,” Gomez said.

The mission began as a small group of people meeting for a Bible study. During a meeting, the group came across across a verse in the book of Matthew, and were inspired by it. The verse talks of feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty and taking in strangers.
“We saw a need in the community for a mission like this,” Gomez said. “We meet people from all walks of life.”

A retired school teacher and Missouri resident, Nelda Charlene Ridgell spent an hour and a half at the mission, moving from table to table, talking to those present.

“I’m thankful to have this home away from home,” Ridgell said, who has spent the last three Thanksgivings at the mission. “Richard has been so kind to me.”

Amid the hubbub of the 30 volunteers acting as waiters, the attendants laughed and talked. The tables were full of people sharing stories of their lives and families.

“It’s a good Mitzvah,” volunteer Elizabeth Thomas said. “It’s a great thing for everyone. It brings the community together to give to those who have and those who have not.”