SEBRING — Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things we are grateful for. There is no doubt that this year has been crazy and we may have to look a little deeper to find things to be grateful for. One does not need to look farther than the folks that volunteered to make the Nu-Hope Thanksgiving celebration a success on Wednesday at Sebring Christian Church.
Nu-Hope Elder Services partnered with Duke Energy to feed about 200 Highlands County senior citizens. Like most things this year, the annual dinner underwent a major change in order to adhere with safety guidelines for coronavirus prevention. Instead of the sit-down meal that is served to the seniors, the dinners were handed out in a drive-thru manner.
Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman was joined by many of his deputies to hand out dinners. The lights on their cruisers alerted diners to the church entrance. Protecting and serving took on a new meaning for Sebring Police Department as officers rolled up their sleeves to help out. Volunteers from many organizations and companies like Heacock Insurance, Cool and Cobb Engineering, Supervisor of Elections, present and past local politicians, and Duke Energy were all represented.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” Blackman said. “Every year, Ingra (Nu-Hope Executive Director Ingra Gardner) asks us. We look forward to serving our seniors.”
In addition to turkey and all the fixings, Duke Energy donated waterproof bags with all sorts of loot inside such as a reusable mask, hand disinfectant wipes, a flashlight, batteries, storm information, and a lot more.
The bounty did not stop there. Handmade Thanksgiving cards made by Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP) were given to each senior who went through the line. The handwritten sentiments assured the seniors they were thought of near the holiday.
Musician Rick Arnold kept everyone’s toes tapping with his electric guitar as he sang classics and some of his original songs from his new album, “Rock the Night Away.” Arnold has volunteered his talents for the last two years for Nu-Hope.
“We are happy to be a part of something to give back to the community, especially for seniors,” Duke Energy’s Nancy Dodd said. “The bags have supplies that some of the seniors may not be able to get out and get.”
Gardner said the dinner was made possible by Duke Energy and all the volunteers.
“This is the true test of the community and the community partners,” Gardner said. “Highlands County is the epitome of community.”