News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- There are 150 turkeys -- baked, grilled, smoked and fried -- and all a lot of sides, too.
"Dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and it was very good,” said Coley Thigpen.
It’s enough food to practically feed a city, and that's what Aiken's "One Table" is all about.
"You see from the most affluent people out here to people who are struggling, no doubt, for a meal, but they're sitting down at a table together breaking bread, and I think that's the way our Good Lord intended for it to be,” said former City Councilman Don Wells, now a state representative.
Wells and his family were a few of hundreds who showed up.
"We just finished having lunch here today. Wonderful food. Wonderful fellowship, and I tell you, I just don't think you could find any other city that has anything similar to this experience,” he said.
He says the idea started about a decade ago in a quality of life meeting between city leaders and the public. At first, the idea was to hold it at a park on the outskirts of downtown Aiken.
"But, we all got together and met that morning. We met right here in a circle, right here in the middle of the Alley, and we knew then that this was the place,” Wells said.
Churches and volunteers came together to hold the first One Table in 2005, and they've continued that tradition ever since. Many of the chefs even stay up all night cooking for thousands of hungry people.
"Black or white, when you come here to the Aiken One Table, you know you are loved,” said Brenda Davis, who attended the event in honor of her friend, Douglas Washington, who died recently.
Washington was once a happy volunteer of the event.
The event's website says One Table is not a hand-out but a handshake to the people of the Aiken community.