One Table In Words...

The generously shared experiences of others.

Marty Healy, Local Author

November 30th, 2005

Today has been one of the most enjoyable and perhaps one of the most spiritual days I have yet experienced. It started this morning, deep in the heart of Hitchcock Woods. The Blessing of the Hounds. Warm, soft sun filtered through towering pines and leaves still clinging to ancient oaks and maples and other trees too numerous to name. Sometimes, a breeze would shake the boughs and a flurry of golden-brown and deep reds would cover us. The ground had the perfect crunch of Autumn underfoot, along with inexplicably green grass and ferns and vines that grabbed playfully at passing boots. The anticipatory bay of the hounds floated around us long before we could see them. The horses sensed something wondrous, listening and watching with alert attention. The Hunt members and staff were brilliant in their greens and "pinks" and other colors and shades steeped in tradition and meaning. Mounted safety officers kept watch over us, too. The priest was tall, and dressed ceremoniously. A striking contrast to the natural setting, but all the more meaningful because of it. The Blessing itself was old and echoed from years long past. The prayer was recent - written just two years back, especially for this place, this event, this time. It was incredibly beautiful and moving. It was a large and respectful crowd. Hundreds of people, all ages, all backgrounds, all levels of familiarity with the occasion. Our hosts took care to explain the many nuances. The children were called forward to pet and greet the hounds, who had been ushered into the clearing in a sort of massed parade. Here was a new generation to be taught, to experience, to build early memories, to carry forward when we are gone. One young fellow - one of the hounds - decided he couldn't wait for the call. He dashed into the woods, was coaxed back for a bit, but felt compelled to be on his way again. Never mind. He knew the woods well. They would catch up with him soon enough. He would be Blessed in absentia. When it was over, the Hunt went on - a humane drag, where no living creature is harmed. And we spectators walked quietly out of the woods in close camaraderie, to go our individual ways. My way went downtown to experience "One Table," the open Thanksgiving meal hosted by and for the entire town. Here, the day continued to grow in meaning and beauty and spirituality and joy. My friends, you have got to do this. Everyone in Aiken needs to be a part of this amazing experience at least one time. (I am assuming it will become an annual event.) The tables were laid end-to-end down The Alley, forming a symbolic cross. An ancient sign for "hospitality." To my mind, this is what Thanksgiving Day is all about. Sharing together. Serving each other. Hundreds contributed their time, talents, money and materials. People came from all sides of town, arms loaded with lovingly prepared side dishes. And they sat next to each other and said grace together. Teams cooked and carved turkeys. Individuals served desserts. And entertainers sang from their hearts for us. The music was spirit-filled and as plentiful as the food. The close-harmony rendition of The Star Spangled Banner brought most to their feet and tears to most eyes. The gospel music filled the air with love and faith and welcoming warmth. Throughout the entire afternoon, I ate, and shook hands, and was hugged many times. I listened and clapped and laughed with new friends. And, with my heart filled to overflowing, the sun warm on my shoulders, and a breeze softly at my back, I fell in love all over again with this amazing town of Aiken. Marti Healy is vice president and senior writer for The Design Group, and manager of its Aiken branch office. She is also the author of "The God-Dog Connection." (Reprinted from the Aiken Standard Newspaper)  

Julia Sellers, Augusta Chronicle

November 21st, 2007

Volunteers bring community together for holiday dinner By Julia Sellers| South Carolina Bureau Wednesday, November 21, 2007  AIKEN --- The third annual One Table event will provide a hot Thanksgiving dinner and fellowship to more than 1,000 area residents Thursday. At least 100 volunteers will cook more than 120 turkeys and man four buffet tables in The Alley in downtown Aiken. The event began in 2005 with more than 200 meals being served mostly to law enforcement officers and EMT workers on duty during the holiday, said Eddie George, a founding organizer. "Nobody gets any credit or horn-blowing here," he said. "About 90 percent of the stuff donated, we don't even know where it comes from. If you're doing something good, it's strictly because you're doing good." Volunteers will serve dressing, rice and gravy, corn on the cob and sweet potato pie from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. Officials say turkeys will start simmering about midnight tonight and will be served every way imaginable, including fried, baked and grilled. In the past three years, Mr. George said, One Table has meant a lot to him. "I've made a ton of friends through this that would be complete strangers to me if it weren't for this event. It's just a blessing to me every way I turn," he said. "It's quite a feeling to show up at 9 a.m. when the tables start going up and see all these people from different denominations, churches and even nonchurch folks unloading tables and setting up." After working at St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church's soup kitchen on Thanksgiving Day for several years, Mr. George proposed a larger event to Aiken Public Safety Director Pete Frommer. From there, Barbara Franklin, of Christ Central, a nonprofit organization, teamed up with Mr. George and other soup kitchens and churches to start One Table. "This is really different than a lot of events because this is not a soup kitchen or haves doing for have-nots." he said. "It's for everybody in the community to come sit down together at one table." One Table volunteers also work with the Council on Aging and churches to prepare meals for about 70 shut-ins. The event has already surpassed its expected food donations, but volunteers are still welcome. "Everybody can help in their own way, even if it's just to pick up behind yourself," Mr. George said. "And if anybody has a particular dish that they feel like it's not Thanksgiving without it, they're welcome to bring it and share it with others."
© OneTable.info
One Table In Words...

The generously shared experiences of others.

Marty Healy, Local Author

November 30th, 2005

Today has been one of the most enjoyable and perhaps one of the most spiritual days I have yet experienced. It started this morning, deep in the heart of Hitchcock Woods. The Blessing of the Hounds. Warm, soft sun filtered through towering pines and leaves still clinging to ancient oaks and maples and other trees too numerous to name. Sometimes, a breeze would shake the boughs and a flurry of golden-brown and deep reds would cover us. The ground had the perfect crunch of Autumn underfoot, along with inexplicably green grass and ferns and vines that grabbed playfully at passing boots. The anticipatory bay of the hounds floated around us long before we could see them. The horses sensed something wondrous, listening and watching with alert attention. The Hunt members and staff were brilliant in their greens and "pinks" and other colors and shades steeped in tradition and meaning. Mounted safety officers kept watch over us, too. The priest was tall, and dressed ceremoniously. A striking contrast to the natural setting, but all the more meaningful because of it. The Blessing itself was old and echoed from years long past. The prayer was recent - written just two years back, especially for this place, this event, this time. It was incredibly beautiful and moving. It was a large and respectful crowd. Hundreds of people, all ages, all backgrounds, all levels of familiarity with the occasion. Our hosts took care to explain the many nuances. The children were called forward to pet and greet the hounds, who had been ushered into the clearing in a sort of massed parade. Here was a new generation to be taught, to experience, to build early memories, to carry forward when we are gone. One young fellow - one of the hounds - decided he couldn't wait for the call. He dashed into the woods, was coaxed back for a bit, but felt compelled to be on his way again. Never mind. He knew the woods well. They would catch up with him soon enough. He would be Blessed in absentia. When it was over, the Hunt went on - a humane drag, where no living creature is harmed. And we spectators walked quietly out of the woods in close camaraderie, to go our individual ways. My way went downtown to experience "One Table," the open Thanksgiving meal hosted by and for the entire town. Here, the day continued to grow in meaning and beauty and spirituality and joy. My friends, you have got to do this. Everyone in Aiken needs to be a part of this amazing experience at least one time. (I am assuming it will become an annual event.) The tables were laid end-to-end down The Alley, forming a symbolic cross. An ancient sign for "hospitality." To my mind, this is what Thanksgiving Day is all about. Sharing together. Serving each other. Hundreds contributed their time, talents, money and materials. People came from all sides of town, arms loaded with lovingly prepared side dishes. And they sat next to each other and said grace together. Teams cooked and carved turkeys. Individuals served desserts. And entertainers sang from their hearts for us. The music was spirit-filled and as plentiful as the food. The close- harmony rendition of The Star Spangled Banner brought most to their feet and tears to most eyes. The gospel music filled the air with love and faith and welcoming warmth. Throughout the entire afternoon, I ate, and shook hands, and was hugged many times. I listened and clapped and laughed with new friends. And, with my heart filled to overflowing, the sun warm on my shoulders, and a breeze softly at my back, I fell in love all over again with this amazing town of Aiken. Marti Healy is vice president and senior writer for The Design Group, and manager of its Aiken branch office. She is also the author of "The God-Dog Connection." (Reprinted from the Aiken Standard Newspaper)  

Julia Sellers, Augusta Chronicle

November 21st, 2007

Volunteers bring community together for holiday dinner By Julia Sellers| South Carolina Bureau Wednesday, November 21, 2007  AIKEN --- The third annual One Table event will provide a hot Thanksgiving dinner and fellowship to more than 1,000 area residents Thursday. At least 100 volunteers will cook more than 120 turkeys and man four buffet tables in The Alley in downtown Aiken. The event began in 2005 with more than 200 meals being served mostly to law enforcement officers and EMT workers on duty during the holiday, said Eddie George, a founding organizer. "Nobody gets any credit or horn-blowing here," he said. "About 90 percent of the stuff donated, we don't even know where it comes from. If you're doing something good, it's strictly because you're doing good." Volunteers will serve dressing, rice and gravy, corn on the cob and sweet potato pie from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. Officials say turkeys will start simmering about midnight tonight and will be served every way imaginable, including fried, baked and grilled. In the past three years, Mr. George said, One Table has meant a lot to him. "I've made a ton of friends through this that would be complete strangers to me if it weren't for this event. It's just a blessing to me every way I turn," he said. "It's quite a feeling to show up at 9 a.m. when the tables start going up and see all these people from different denominations, churches and even nonchurch folks unloading tables and setting up." After working at St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church's soup kitchen on Thanksgiving Day for several years, Mr. George proposed a larger event to Aiken Public Safety Director Pete Frommer. From there, Barbara Franklin, of Christ Central, a nonprofit organization, teamed up with Mr. George and other soup kitchens and churches to start One Table. "This is really different than a lot of events because this is not a soup kitchen or haves doing for have-nots." he said. "It's for everybody in the community to come sit down together at one table." One Table volunteers also work with the Council on Aging and churches to prepare meals for about 70 shut-ins. The event has already surpassed its expected food donations, but volunteers are still welcome. "Everybody can help in their own way, even if it's just to pick up behind yourself," Mr. George said. "And if anybody has a particular dish that they feel like it's not Thanksgiving without it, they're welcome to bring it and share it with others."
© OneTable.info