LONG BRANCH: For the 15th year since he and Chef Jerome first established the annual free community Thanksgiving Day Dinner at St. Luke's UMC on Broadway at Washington Street, volunteer coordinator Avery Grant thanked the volunteers who came early, set up the dining hall and served a full course meal for the holiday to the many guests from the city and nearby towns.
About 300 meals were served at the church by volunteers who delivered 128 meals to shut-ins not able to make it to the church hall. Among the delivery volunteers were Morgan Newman from Long Branch and Charlie Brown, from Ocean, a volunteer and former administrator at the Monmouth County Human Services group offices.
The current chef is Chris Rumph who headed the kitchen efforts with help from Monmouth U's Soup 'D Shore company originated as a culinary project by the university's School of Business.
An Ocean Township youngster, Luke Bonenfant entertained the group as he sang and accompanied himself on piano to the delight of all.
Pastor Rev. Jungrea Chung offered a prayer of thanksgiving especially for the volunteers, many of them youngsters who gave their efforts on the holiday to "give joy to the community."
The church is in the planning stages of hopefully establishing a thrift store in the December to January time frame if all works out. The store would be manned by volunteers and the date is still "to be determined" as plans move ahead.