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Marysville's Community Lunch serves those in need | SLIDESHOW
MARYSVILLE — Five years ago, the Marysville Community Lunch non-profit group started serving hot meals to the homeless in the Ebey Waterfront and Comeford parks.
Two years ago, the Marysville Community Lunch moved into the basement of the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church, at Fourth Street and Columbia Avenue, where their volunteers still serve free meals to those in need starting at 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
This coming Christmas Day, the Marysville Community Lunch will move its Friday serving to Saturday, Dec. 25, starting at 1 p.m., with gifts from the Mountain View Presbyterian Church’s “giving tree” to follow.
Teri Branan, who took over the Marysville Community Lunch from Kay Cannell after her passing two years ago, explained that the group’s needs remain much the same, except for the degree of need among those they serve.
“We average about 37-40 diners per meal, but we can get as many as 50 in a sitting,” Branan said. “There’s no RSVPs, so we just cook for 50-plus people.”
Within the past year, the Marysville Community Lunch has seen two of its frequent guests pass away, at the same time that they’ve gained a small group of young adults among their patrons.
“It just reminds us how dear those old guests have become to us,” Branan said. “We’re trying our best to get the young ones to trust us, but it seems like they’ve just been so hurt that they’re keeping us at arm’s length.”
Among the more familiar returnees, some of whom Branan remembered seeing back when the Marysville Community Lunch still took place in the parks, she reported that they help the volunteers set the tables beforehand and clean up afterward, taking a sense of pride and ownership in the thrice-weekly meal.
“I’ve never had to call the police on them,” Branan said, before laughing, “I have had to be ‘Mom’ with a few of them, though.”
Branan credited the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Mountain View Presbyterian churches with helping to sustain the Marysville Community Lunch through offerings from their congregations, and thanked the folks who have anonymously donated cans of soup, vegetables and even entire turkeys, but she emphasized the degree of need that still exists.
Among the items that count as valuable gifts to the homeless and needy diners are disposable hand warmers, gloves, hats, sleeping bags, small-denomination food gift cards for Safeway and Albertsons, and waterproof clothing, all of which Branan would welcome as donations to the Marysville Community Lunch.
“We give them their gifts in black garbage bags,” Branan said. “They’ve gotten hurt because we’ve given them things that were too nice before. If it’s too sparkly or new, they’ll get jumped for it.”
However cold the weather and the treatment they encounter outside, Christmas Day offers the Marysville Community Lunch patrons the chance to have their food brought to them once a year, rather than lining up for it cafeteria-style.
“People don’t look at them as being human out there,” Branan said. “In here, they get presents with their names on them, and they’re so thankful.”
For more information, call Branan at 360-658-4472 or look up “Marysville Community Lunch” on Facebook.