The Church at Martinsburg teamed up for the effort with Loaves and Fishes, a local interdenominational ministry, and wound up exceeding their multiplied goal by 50 percent -- receiving more than seven times the number of turkeys they had aimed for the previous year.
In 2009, a goal of 40 turkeys was set for the church's first "Operation Thanks" initiative, and more than 100 turkeys were collected that year. The 2010 goal of 200 turkeys was met within 10 minutes after the collection drive opened. By the end of the hour-long event, 305 turkeys had been donated.
The co-director of Loaves and Fishes, Melanie Files, said this was the first time in five years of coordinating Thanksgiving meals that the group received all of the turkeys needed to fill requests for Thanksgiving meals.
"To not be up at 4 a.m. worried that we wouldn't have enough, I'm very thankful," Files said. "There were no sleepless nights this year."
Loaves and Fishes, which serves 300 families each month, planned to give away full meals to approximately 200 families this Thanksgiving, Files said. Thirty of the excess turkeys were given to families of teenage mothers; church members gave other turkeys to needy families in their own communities. Any other leftover turkeys would be distributed in December.
Jacob Atchley is pastor of The Church at Martinsburg, which meets in a cinema after having been started this past spring in a home in Berkeley County and has grown to more than 150 members. Atchley said he saw the turkey drive as an opportunity to express gratitude to Christ by being generous.
"We learn that generosity is a source of gratitude for what Jesus has done for us through the Gospel," Atchley said. "This has propelled us into our communities; this is what we and our church are called to do.
"Operation Thanks is a clear demonstration of the core values of The Church at Martinsburg," Atchley added. "The people that make up this faith family have been deeply impacted by the Gospel and this act of kindness is one way they are showing it."
Compiled by Baptist Press from information submitted by Jillian Kesner of the Church at Martinsburg, on the Internet at www.martinsburgchurch.org.
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