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Thanksgiving dinner provided for Charleston men's shelter

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While many West Virginians enjoy a large spread with turkey and all the trimmings on their kitchen tables this week, there are others not as fortunate.

Recognizing that, a group of volunteers from Elizabeth Baptist Church of Bancroft served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Union Mission's Crossroads men's shelter in Charleston on Wednesday.

"We have a good number of middle school and high school students with us (as volunteers)," said one of the organizers from Elizabeth Baptist, Michelle Luikart. "The kids love to help."

"A lot of people read about the homeless," she added, choking back her tears. "But few experience it like this. We are very thankful."

The group not only provides dinner at Thanksgiving, as this occasion marked the second annual holiday feast served, but it has returned to Crossroads once a month for the past three years to serve a home-cooked meal for the homeless.

"It changes you," Luikart said.

Another one of the volunteer servers was Walt Helmick, the state agriculture commissioner.

"There are a lot of people that don't receive the food that they need," he said. "It's good for us to give and share with those folks that aren't as fortunate.

"This is the time of year we think about how blessed we are. It's time to give thanks. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this, in a small way. The Union Mission does great work."

As the West Virginia agriculture commissioner, Helmick hopes to grow the industry to help the state provide a significant amount of food product for itself.

"This fits right in with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture's mission," he said. "We want to provide wholesome West Virginia food products, grown by West Virginians, for West Virginians to consume.

"There's a lot of turkey grown in West Virginia, and pumpkins, apples, potatoes – all of the trimmings. You see it grown in West Virginia. It's a deep tradition for us."