Florence church welcomes everyone, feeds thousands

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - First United Methodist Church in downtown Florence spent days preparing to feed more people than ever before.

They cooked food for over three thousand homeless, less fortunate or just plain hungry neighbors.

Wannell Scott, a discipleship minister at the church, spearheaded the efforts. She said they've had more volunteers this year than years prior.

"This is ministry in action," Scott said. "The younger generation they see a lot, but they want to physically be able to do something in the name of God. This is that opportunity."

They've served the shut-ins and homeless for nine years now. It's a service that's growing bigger every year. This year, it was about the size 60 turkeys can feed.

"It takes everybody," Scott said. "I think people are wanting to serve. They want to make a difference in people's lives."

From spoonfuls of stuffing to more pie slices you can even fathom, there's a clear sign that the people at the church Thursday want to serve their community. But, it's more than a hot meal that they provided.

"When she got the food, she cried, because she didn't think she would have anything to eat," Scott explained about one woman they delivered a meal to at home. "Part of it is connection because they were more touched by the people loving them. That was what they said, that we're so glad somebody cares. Glad somebody loves us."

Everybody who volunteered clearly wanted to be there. They all had stories to tell about why they serve the homeless on their holiday. One father and son though, they fell into it.

"Well, I came up to meet my biological family; I grew up in foster care," said John Newman. "I kind of ended up stranded here. My car broke down, and this is where God told me I need to be."

Newman and his four-year-old son Jacob found their family in Florence. Now, they are finding a community to join.

Scott said they will do it all again for Christmas dinner.