Harlem church transforms into high-end restaurant to serve Thanksgiving meal to those in need

HARLEM -- It's an annual tradition for one Harlem church -- serving food those who need it most on Thanksgiving Day.

The event is also to provide a place for community residents so they're not alone on the holiday.

This year, there's a twist.

The First Corinthian Baptist Church is kicking it up a notch by serving up turkey and all the fixins' with the white glove treatment.

FCBC, as it is known, has transformed into a high-end restaurant for the day.

Dining tables adorned with tablecloths and centerpieces, a pre-printed special menu and waiters in uniform taking your order -- it's clear it's not your average charity Thanksgiving meal.

"There are some people who have never been in a restaurant before. There are some people who have never been served before. We have a saying we live, we love, we service. Well we live and love and we service the people of our community," said Deacon Cecelia Callender.

The church is a staple of this neighborhood. 10,000 parishioners strong and growing. Over 200 volunteers today to serve up food and holiday cheer.

"What more can I say? I'm glad to be here," said Gerald Talley. Talley was enjoying a full plate of turkey, ham, collard greens, yams, rice, corn bread and mac and cheese when he spoke with PIX11.

Talley said he chose to spend Thanksgiving at FCBC because of the kindness of those who run the event.

Deacon Cecelia points out many here are not homeless. They live in the community and and come for the good food and the even better company.

"There are some people not homeless some people who have chosen to come here to be around people. We have so much gratitude for the people who chose to be here with us. No one wants to be lonely this Thanksgiving day and many choose to come here and be a part of it just to sit and enjoy the atmosphere," said the Deacon.

"Some are families, some come here on their own and they meet new friends. It's a good place to meet and fellowship with each other," adds the Deacon.

All the food is made by volunteers. Many of them having spent days cooking.

"It's my family, this is a place where love abounds. They're top-of-the-line and totally giving. It's a place where you come and feel validated as a human being," said parishioner Lynette Choice, who brought her good friend Cary Scott with her to today's meal.

Church organizers say they want your bellies full and your hearts as well. Most importantly, they want you to remember what's important on this day.

Deacon Callender reminded us "Be thankful for what you have right now, don't worry about what you don't have. Be thankful for what God has given you, be thankful for that and cherish that."

FCBC leaders served over 1,000 people today and it's not just those who came to the church for a traditional sit-down meal or to pick up to-go boxes.

Volunteers also spent the day delivering food to those who are sick or unable to leave their home. Church organizers say it's their way of giving back to the community and giving thanks on Thanksgiving.