SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) – Sylvester Police officers put down their guns and put on their aprons Monday. They served nearly 500 people a hot Thanksgiving meal at the First African Baptist Church in Sylvester.
They had a huge turnout. They began dishing up plates at 11:30 and didn't stop until 4.
Police officers wanted to provide a warm home-cooked meal for those who maybe can't afford it and also to show the community a side of law enforcers some never get to see.
At the First African Baptist Church in Sylvester Thanksgiving came early.
"This is a blessing. So many people don't have nothing," said Estella Sparrow as she ate a plate full of delicious food.
But today they had plenty.
"It was good, I enjoyed it. I gained a pound," laughed Sylvester man Kenneth MacDonald.
All thanks to an unlikely group of chefs and volunteers.
"I said why don't we do a dinner." Nathaniel Newton, chief investigator for the Sylvester Police Department thought of the idea.
Pastor Marcus Stroud helped him carry it through. "We know that the Lord has asked us to go out and feed the people not only with the Word but basic needs."
With that in mind, 35 volunteers including police officers and firefighters took a few hours out of their day to serve their community a different way.
"I want people to see that police are not just here to put people in jail we're here for them, their safety, and to make sure their taken care of," said Newton.
"It's important to bridge that gap between the community and police," said Chief Alfred Anderson.
What better way to bridge that gap than with a plateful of Thanksgiving favorites.
"That will get you to know the policemen better and they can better serve you when that goes on. When there's a lack of that, police are strangers to you," said Robert Young.
But today there were no strangers. Just a lot of good food and good company.
The Sylvester police chief says giving back to the community is a priority.
He said even though they're busy, they make the time and even budget their money to be able to buy the food.
The Unique Ryders Motorcycle group, council members, even kids helped the police department prepare the meals and serve today.
This is the 2nd year the police department has done this and they hope it grows every year.