Community, Not Charity

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

"There's a lot of love here, a lot of charity, a lot of gratitude and gratefulness. The spirit of Thanksgiving in its most original and true sense," says Mark Nissley, a holiday volunteer at The Little Grill.

At this restaurant on North Main Street in Harrisonburg, the joy of giving is year-round.

"We have a free meal every Monday and we started that about 10 years ago," says Ron Copeland, owner of the grill.

Copeland insists the meals focus on community, not charity.

"Particularly on Thanksgiving, the lines begin to blur, the imaginary lines we create between those who have and those who do not have," he says.

Volunteer Donna Sacra agrees. "What makes it such a community event is there's people who probably can't read or write and college students and we all work side by side," she says.

Nancy Good Sider and her three kids pitch in on holidays to make needy folks like Shirley and Larry feel at home.

"I got good friends like people at The Grill," says Larry.

Friends like Copeland with a heart for humanity. From his soup kitchen came a group called "Our Community Place," and most recently, a community center across a street.

The center is still being renovated, but Copeland hopes to raise enough money to celebrate Thanksgiving there next year.

"It's a really nice atmosphere to have on Thanksgiving. I would never go anywhere else," says Copeland.

If you would like to give money or volunteer your time, you can contact The Little Grill at 434-3594.


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