5,500 served by annual Easter Feed

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 175 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — Children raced around the tables on their way to snag Easter baskets as adults dished out turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, dressing, candied yams and rolls.

The homey scene was just one part of the 19th annual Trent Trumbo Memorial Easter Feed provided by the M&N Augustine Foundation on Saturday (April 7). Trumbo, a Fayetteville alderman who helped start the annual Easter Feed, was killed in a car accident in 2002.

Serving of the traditional holiday feast began at 11 a.m. and brought families, the homeless, veterans and the elderly together at Central United Methodist Church on Dickson Street. Organizers prepared to serve about 5,500 people at this year’s event.

“This is a beautiful outreach of the community. People come from everywhere with turkeys and hams to donate,” said guest Bob Cantrell.

In addition to the main meal, volunteers created Easter baskets for children and boxed up and delivered the remaining meals to about 1,500 homes in the community.

Barbara Fisher of the Meals on Wheels delivery program explained that each volunteer had a different work load based on their availability and preference.

“I’m delivering to only 10 houses today, but others are delivering to as many as 31 houses,” she said.

Easter baskets were free, and guests were encouraged to take an extra to a child who couldn’t make it to the event.

Eileen Hendrix, 94 and a member at Central since 1947, spent Saturday serving slices of apple pie that she made for the guests. Light-hearted and humble, she insisted, “I didn’t do anything yet…I’m just here to mess things up!”

The Easter Feed has grown exponentially. In its 10th year, the foundation served 2,500 people. More than 6,500 were served during last year’s event.

“We do this dinner for those whose life circumstances have been pushed beyond their control … it’s our duty to help,” said Merlin Augustine, the foundation’s founder and namesake.

Augustine grew up in a home where the needy were always welcome; his family helped many people back on their feet. He often had to make compromises, like giving up his bed and sleeping on the floor when a family of four needed a safe place to stay. As a child, it was difficult for him to understand his parents’ motivations.

“They didn’t have much, but they gave,” he said of his mother and father. “There were no government programs at the time, so our house was that for other people.”
Augustine once candidly asked his father why he felt a duty to give. “He told me ‘Jesus requires we be the least among us,’” he said. “We talked for two hours and when we were done, I knew I had to do something for others.”

People of all races and religions mix, mingle and eat together at the annual Easter Feed, a huge source of pride for Augustine. He created the M&N Augustine Foundation in 1992 to honor his parents, Merlin and Nora, with the goal of continuing to help the down-trodden through difficult times with financial assistance, food, medicine and/or shelter.

He’ll be honored for his work in the community on Tuesday night (April 10) when he receives an Eagle Award during the Washington Regional Foundation’s annual fundraising gala at the Walton Arts Center.