Merriweathers reach out their hands

By Staff
ALL THE TRIMMINGS Yasmine Brown, left, and Dee Brown of Frank Berry Courts, receive Thanksgiving dinners from the Rev. Samuel Merriweather Thursday. Merriweather, his wife, Sharon, and four volunteers distributed more than 350 dinners to needy families, shut-ins, the elderly and the disabled. Photo by Paula Merritt/ The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Nov. 29, 2002
Gospel music played in the background Thanksgiving morning as Sharon Merriweather filled hundreds of styrofoam platters with turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, string beans and collard greens.
Merriweather and her husband, the Rev. Samuel Merriweather, started cooking Thanksgiving dinner for more than 350 people on Tuesday.
On Thursday, with the help of four volunteers, the Merriweathers fed needy families, shut-ins, the elderly and the disabled from their 500-square-foot barbecue restaurant on 23rd Street in Meridian.
Seeing a need
The Merriweathers founded Merriweather's Community Outreach Program in 1992. It was mostly Sharon Merriweather's idea.
Merriweather said she was driving on 29th Avenue near Fifth Street one day when she heard the cries of a little girl whose foot was caught in the spokes of her bicycle.
After initial hesitation, she said, she stopped to help the girl.
That's when the outreach began.
Feeding others
In 1992, the Merriweathers fed 300 people. For nine years, they've distributed food bags filled with hens, ham, rice and noodles but this year, they went back to fixing Thanksgiving dinner themselves.
Samuel Merriweather said they got a list of 350 names from the Meridian Housing Authority and distributed flyers to let others know the food was available for carry-out.
Volunteer Monroe Hampton headed to Frank Berry and Sowashee courts with more than 50 dinners on his first delivery trip Thursday. Hampton said he got involved because he is a deacon at St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Meridian where Samuel Merriweather is the assistant pastor.
Samuel Merriweather said he got his call from God three years ago and became a pastor.
He's now also pastor of Hubbard Bethlehem Baptist Church in Lauderdale and also runs the couple's restaurant, which opened Nov. 1.
Lorraine Belcher has volunteered with the Merriweathers for two years.
Later Thursday afternoon
At 2 p.m., the number of meals distributed and carried out was at 369, with 12 more to go.
Sharon Merriweather said she cannot begin to estimate the number of hours spent planning and preparing the Thanksgiving dinner.
The Merriweathers said if they were too tired to stop at their daughter's house for Thanksgiving dinner, "We will go home an open a can of soup."

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