Passing out food at the Dream Center

A Thanksgiving Miracle

- by Hand of Hope

On November 21, the St. Louis Dream Center church, an outreach of Joyce Meyer Ministries, held its annual Thanksgiving holiday giveaway, blessing 400 local St. Louis, Missouri families in need with a turkey and all the trimmings.

Like so many other outreaches in 2020, COVID-19 forced the Dream Center staff to think outside the box and get a little creative.

“It’s really an amazing way we are pulling this off,” Senior Pastor Tony Gilmore said. “We are doing a drive-through method. So, they drive through, and we are loading up their cars. We’re keeping them safe, and we are keeping the team safe.”

By 10 am, more than 100 cars had already lined up around the church and down Natural Bridge Road, one of the city’s main arteries. One by one, they rolled into the Dream Center parking lot, where they were greeted with cheers and songs from the volunteers, who loaded up their vehicles with the Thanksgiving turkey and everything that goes with it.

“They’re getting the whole meal,” Pastor Gilmore said. “So, turkey, dressing and all the fixings. Then this year we added a component—it’s my personal favorite—the dessert. So, I think everything we are giving out will take care of the whole meal.”

It was so more than an outreach—it was a celebration of each family and an outpouring of God’s love for those who have fought through a particularly difficult year.

“This outreach means everything,” Kina Grant said through tears, overwhelmed by the love and support. “I just lost my mom in April, and it’s my first holiday without her.”

A mother of four, Kina has struggled all year to provide for her family. As a school bus driver, she has spent much of 2020 unemployed and looking for ways to make ends meet.

“We just got laid off again for two weeks, so this outreach is perfect timing,” Kina said. “I want to thank everyone who had anything to do with my family having a decent meal at a rough, rough time.”

Each family pre-registered for the event, ensuring the meals were given to those who needed it most.

Not every recipient was able to leave their home. So, with mask on and hoodie up, volunteer Carmen Ward loaded up her van on this chilly day and prepared to deliver 20 Thanksgiving dinners to those who couldn’t attend the drive-through.

“I’m out here supporting my church—helping our seniors and disabled people in a real way by getting these food baskets in their hands,” Carmen said. “This is going to keep people from spending money they don’t have. Now they can pay bills, and they can actually have a good Thanksgiving.”

Carmen knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end. In 2014, the Dream Center helped her through a difficult time of her own. It’s that love that changed her life and gave her a vision for the neighborhood.

“The Dream Center is the heartbeat of the work that I do,” she said. “I am able to go into my community right now and give back everything that was given to me.

And that’s what it’s all about—meeting needs, changing lives and sharing the love of Jesus in tangible, meaningful ways.

“I am so grateful for the partners of Joyce Meyer Ministries,” Pastor Gilmore said. “A lot of these families in this season would have to go without if we weren’t able to put on an event such as this. You are making it possible for them to have a normal Thanksgiving. You are blessing people you may never see.”

After waiting in the parade of cars, Earl Dugger finally reached the lot and was met with cheers as volunteers began loading his trunk. With four children and not enough money, he had no back-up plan and wasn’t sure how to provide Thanksgiving dinner.

“Man, this outreach is helping us out a lot,” Earl said. “We have low funds and can’t get as much food as we wanted. But now we can eat. Outreaches like this give people encouragement, and I appreciate everything that is given to us.”

Phylicia Lewis wasn’t far behind. All smiles, she patiently waited her turn and shared how she’s going to use her meal to provide Thanksgiving for two single mothers and their children.

“I think it’s awesome,” Phylicia said. “You don’t know the miracles you are helping to perform for others.”

In a year that’s been anything but normal, God has used the partners of Joyce Meyer Ministries to share His love with the people in this community in a way they never expected…and share a message of hope that He cares about every single detail of their lives. And they will never forget it.

Hand of Hope