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The church's annual outreach tends to attract othersto help hand out dozens of thanksgiving meals

Northside Community Church's annual Thanksgiving Box outreach effort often elicits emotional and grateful reactions when unsuspecting recipients are given the fixings for a full turkey dinner.SETH GORDON - Volunteer Sherri Moore distribute a box with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner to Grace Sedivec on Nov. 22 at Northside Community Church. This year, the church effort distributed 60 of its 'Thanksgiving Boxes' to those in need.

And while blessing those in need is the primary intent of the project, it also has a knack for inspiring the giving spirit in others, which makes the ministry that much more meaningful for organizer Greg Fair.

That's in large part because the undertaking seems to catch people's eye, whether it's being seen carrying around or delivering the large boxes or buying one of the staple holiday food items in massive quantities.

That leads to questions and once people find out what's going on, they tend to want to join in.

That happened to Fair's wife, Hilda, as she bought 60 pumpkin pies from a local store this year. The staff had to scramble to assemble all of them because each time they brought out a new palate of pies, customers gobbled them up.

Once she got to the checkout line, a woman swooped in behind her, noting aloud that while others were avoiding that particular line, it was actually likely to go faster because the checker would only have to scan one item and then simple charge Fair for 60 of them.

"Then they started talking and Hilda explained," Greg Fair said. "The lady lived all the way over on the east side of Tualatin somewhere and they showed up and actually took a box because if they know somebody in their area that needs it, take it because that's what it's all about. It's just helping people. That was kind of exciting that you would have people at Costco in Wilsonville that gladly came over and helped with this."

This year, more than 50 people showed up at the church on the eve of Thanksgiving to help assemble and distribute the boxes and Fair was pleased to see that many were not affiliated with Northside. That included a few volunteers from the Helping Hands men's shelter in Newberg, as well as others who were invited by friends or otherwise learned about the effort.

"I was very blessed by the support that was shown that night. It was really neat," he said.

With piles of frozen turkeys, pies, butter, potatoes, bread, cranberry sauce and all the other Thanksgiving fixings lined up on tables it took the group less than 30 minutes to box everything up.

About 45 of the boxes were earmarked for particular families at the suggestion of members of the congregation, but the remaining were left for people to hand out as they see fit.

That could mean they had somebody else in mind who was in need, or they could simply head out in the community and try to find a stranger who could use the box, which Greg Fair calls "freelancing."

"I just love to drive around and just let the spirit lead me," Fair said. "I'll just see someone out, like last year I saw somebody on the porch of an apartment."

This year, Fair was accompanied by his son-in-law and grandson and they encountered a woman who said her daughter could really use the food.

"She was just blown away and it was just as simple as driving through a parking lot of an apartment complex," Fair said. "She was outside in the rain and my grandson said, 'There's somebody!' So we stopped. That's how it works. It only took a few minutes, but it's a neat experience."

Because most of the boxes are earmarked for families at the suggestion of a church member, volunteers delivering those boxes often have a similarly powerful experience.

"I know some people who had given out some and there were a lot of tears, people were blown away because they didn't have anything and then somebody shows up at the door," Fair said. "So it's much the same thing."

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