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Minister hopes to feed 1,000 hungry souls during second annual holiday event

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
(L-r) Teresa Pugh, Tasha Mosley and Keith Gammage with 50 frozen turkeys after they were paid for at Lovejoy Wal-Mart Wednesday. The store agreed to store the turkeys for Bread Basket Thanksgiving until they can be cooked next week.

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats (L-r) Teresa Pugh, Tasha Mosley and Keith Gammage with 50 frozen turkeys after they were paid for at Lovejoy Wal-Mart Wednesday. The store agreed to store the turkeys for Bread Basket Thanksgiving until they can be cooked next week.

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

LOVEJOY — When Teresa Pugh opens the doors to Charles Drew High School Thursday, she likely will see herself in the faces of the hungry folks looking for a hot holiday meal.

Pugh, the pastor at Trinity Community Church on Tara Boulevard, suddenly became a struggling single mother of two when her first husband left the family in 1978.

“We’d just moved to Houston when he left,” she said. “I had two small children and in a city of 3 million, I had no relatives and knew no one. I worked at a bank and then a convenience store, I was working on finishing my degree at Texas Southern and trying to take care of two kids.”

Life was a challenge for Pugh but charity prevailed.

“Someone reached out to me and my two children so I’m really paying it forward,” she said. “I’ve been there.”

The family moved to Georgia in 1989. Her son died in 2007 and her daughter is a sergeant with the Emory University police department. She has five grandchildren. After getting her degree, Pugh worked as a parole officer and prison counselor. In 2000, she got an unexpected tap on the shoulder.

“I was called to the ministry,” she said. “I said to God, ‘Are you sure you want me?’ ”

She got her master’s degree in divinity and was called to Trinity Community Church three years ago. Last year, she organized Bread Basket Thanksgiving, a holiday event that fed 500 people at Drew High School in Riverdale. Attendees also picked up clothes and participated in a free health screening.

This year, Pugh plans to double that number, solely through donations. Clayton County State Court Solicitor General Tasha Mosley used money collected through her pre-trial intervention program to buy 50 turkeys. Mosley, Pugh and Mosley’s chief assistant prosecutor, Keith Gammage, made the purchase at Lovejoy Walmart Wednesday. The store agreed to keep the birds on ice until next week when they will be picked up by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies have agreed to cook the turkeys.

“We’re targeting people who are truly in need,” said Mosley. “Some of our office will also volunteer to serve food that day and some of our community service workers will also be there to help.”

After the turkeys came to $672, Pugh got another surprise.

“Pastor Pugh, we planned on spending $1,500, we’ve got some money left,” said Mosley. “Go get some blankets.”

Much like Jesus, Who fed multitudes with five loaves and two fishes on faith and a prayer, Pugh said volunteers will feed as many hungry people as show up.

“If you’re hungry, come eat,” she said. “Just show up. We’re going to give as much food as they want to eat. Stay for seconds or thirds.”

Doors will open at 9 a.m. and lunch will be served starting at 10 a.m. Clothes will be given away and free health screenings will be offered, just like last year. The event ends at 4 p.m.

For residents without transportation, vans will pick up at six different locations throughout the day. The spots are Lovejoy Walmart, Lakewin Christian Center on Riverdale Road, North Clayton High School, Riverdale Library, Mt. Zion Home Depot and Traveler’s Rest Church in Rex.

Anyone who wants to make a donation, volunteer or needs more information can contact Pugh at 678-979-8448.