December 22, 2014

Elyria
Mostly clear
40°F
test

Recipients grateful for holiday meals

ELYRIA — Delivering Thanksgiving meals to the needy Thursday was a small way to give back to the community for Deb Lavigne.

Lavigne was one of about 150 volunteers, including about eight drivers, who took part in St. Mary Church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner. Lavigne, a St. Mary parishioner who has been volunteering since the church began serving the dinner in 2008, said she wanted to return some of the goodwill Elyria residents have given to her and her family.

She said residents were extremely supportive after her son, Kris Lavigne, contracted Hodgkin’s disease. Kris Lavigne was 19 when he died in 2004 after an 18-month illness. While grateful, Lavigne said the outpouring was at times awkward.

“It was really hard for me to learn how to take from people. Especially people I didn’t know,” she said. “So when the opportunity to give back came available to us, this is a really good way. And I know Kris would want us to do this.”

Lavigne and her husband, Jeff Lavigne, daughter Danielle Lavigne and Danielle Lavigne’s boyfriend, Adam Franczak, delivered 65 meals to Harr Plaza, a Lorain County Metropolitan Housing Authority apartment complex on Chestnut Street.

Dan Mercer, Harr tenants council president, said some of the residents receiving meals are elderly or disabled. He said it’s difficult for the council to raise the money needed to serve its own dinner.

“I appreciate all the help we can get,” he said.

About 106 meals were delivered around Elyria and about 380 meals were served at the church at 320 Middle Ave., according to Annie Cunningham, St. Mary development director. About $1,100 in donations were raised to prepare the meals and local businesses donated food. Cunningham said another 100 meals were donated by the LaGrange United Methodist Church, which had meals left over after its dinner.

Like the Lavignes, many of the volunteers have been doing so for years for the church, which also does Easter and Christmas dinners and serves dinners on every second, third and fourth Tuesday of the month. Cunningham said she sometimes has to turn away volunteers at Thanksgiving.

“We’ve got it down to a science,” she said. “We’ve got a great group of volunteers, and they do whatever it takes.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.