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Volunteers come together to prepare Christmas lunch for Statesboros Rebeccas Cafe
Rebecca Cafe
Volunteers from church groups, Georgia Southern University and the community joined efforts to provide a special Christmas lunch on Dec. 23 at Rebecca's Caf, housed in the Food Bank at the old Julia P. Bryant School. Rebecca's Caf serves lunch every Tuesday and Thursday to anyone who shows up at noon with no proof of eligibility required. - photo by Special

To find out more about the history of Rebecca's Café, watch here.

At a time when many in our community and nation are divided by skin color, size of bank account and beliefs or unbelief, one place melded hearts and joined hands the week of Christmas to feed families and individuals in need.

A conglomeration of volunteers as varied and unique as the guests who came to eat began preparing the special meal several days in advance of the Dec. 23 lunch.

Volunteers from Trinity Episcopal Church, Magnolia Baptist Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Johnson Grove Baptist Church, First Baptist Church Statesboro, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Statesboro, Mount Zion AME Church, First Presbyterian Church, Greater Bethel AME Church, St. Matthew's Catholic Church, Believers Church, Georgia Southern University Eagle Dining Services and other community volunteers united at Rebecca's Café for one cause - to serve Christmas lunch.

Rebecca's Café, located in the cafeteria of the old Julia P. Bryant School, served turkey, dressing, fruit and tossed salads, sweet potato casserole, turnip greens and homemade desserts to those who might have limited resources, though no proof of eligibility is required of diners.

"We're not only nurturing our bodies, but our spirit and souls together," said the Rev. Jane Page, the minister of the Statesboro Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Community volunteer Gwen Littles said: "It's a community effort. Not just one group, one church, or one person. It's a whole community effort."

"We've had such fun cooking together, such a joy," added Grace Ward, a volunteer from First Baptist, who smiled as she dished out ample portions of fruit salad to children. Mentioning Matthew 25:40 from the Bible, Ward said, "The Lord says if you do it to the least of these, you do it to me."

One such youngster happily munched on lettuce and fruit. His aunt, who brought along her two older daughters and two nieces, said that was all he wanted.

Dressed in a festive red sweater, Willie Mae, a dining guest since the very first Rebecca's Café meal almost five years ago, said: "When I first came, I appreciated the love and warmth I felt from people. The food was so good, I kept coming."

In an online video about Rebecca's Café, the Rev. Joan Kilian, rector of Trinity Episcopal, said eight people were served that first meal, held at the church, after a parishioner had an idea to do something about the hunger problem in Bulloch County.

The group served there temporarily, but moved downtown to Cornerstone Church when they felt their location was an obstacle. The group then relocated to the community center in Luetta Moore Park.

Wanting a permanent home, the volunteers were excited to move to the current location with access to a kitchen and cafeteria, along with the Statesboro Food Bank.

Jim Bastarache, one of Rebecca's Café's organizers and the unofficial general manager said: "We're really super-pleased with where we are now. Here, we're able to do everything we need to do on-site. Working with the Food Bank gives us resources we've never had before."

Bastarache hopes the facility can eventually provide lunch five days a week. Serving Tuesdays and Thursdays, from noon to 1 p.m. with the dining hall remaining open until 1:30 p.m. for patrons to socialize and enjoy the meal, the groups mentioned above take turns feeding the needy. But for this special meal, all served and supped together.


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