FIrst Baptist Church opened it’s Fellowship Hall Thursday to around 150 Tucumcari residents looking for a hearty meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and a variety of salads and desserts. Pastor Benny Hipps said giving people the opportunity to share a free meal with others was all the church members were seeking.
“People are free to ask us about our church, but if they want to just come and eat, that’s fine with us,” said Hipps. “In fact, most people who come just want a good meal and that’s all. We are glad to do this for the community.” Hipps said seven turkeys were baked for the 13th annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Church members delivered free meals to shut-ins Thanksgiving morning. “My children don’t mind at all that we don’t have a traditional Thanksgiving meal at home. They love helping us deliver the meals,” said Hipps. “I see a lot of the same people at this year’s dinner, but I see some new faces too.”
Ignacio Armijo stopped in for a hot meal. He said he has not been experiencing the best of times lately. “I probably wouldn’t be having a Thanksgiving dinner if the church was not serving free meals today,” said Armijo. It’s been hard to find work. I stay with friends from time to time. Some days are a lot harder than others. They serve us really good food here at the church.” Facundo “Foxy” Palacio said the First Baptist Church offered his best chance to get a traditional Thanksgiving meal. “I get by on Social Security benefits,” said Palacio. “I often go to La Casa de La Hope (Tucumcari’s food bank) and get supplemental food, mostly canned goods.”
Donah Cooper, a resident of Quail Ridge Assisted Living Center, said she had a lot to be thankful for as she enjoyed a meal with friends from the church. “I have much to thank the Lord for,” said Cooper. “There isn’t enough time in the day to thank the Lord. I’m thankful for this beautiful day and the ability to come out to the church for this meal. There have been years when I wasn’t well enough to make it out on Thanksgiving Day.” Palacio, a long-time Tucumcari resident, said the food was great. “They are really good cooks here,” said Palacio. “It’s really nice of them to give us this food.” Palacio, who lives alone, said he didn’t have big plans for the rest of the day. “I’ll probably go home and watch some TV.”