OGDEN -- There were plenty of smiles last weekend when a handful of churches, individuals and businesses got together to feed and provide necessities for those in need at the Marshall White Center.
The brainchild of the Congregational Church of Christ, of necessity, a free community dinner was attended by more members of other faiths than of this church as about 140 volunteers attended to help serve those less fortunate.
Congregational United Church of Christ is a small church of 80 members, said Pastor Gage Church. But it's one with big dreams.
"It's always been a dream of mine to serve the community better," said church Deacon Kim Harbath, noting how her church's kitchen was too small to comply to health department standards.
"One night, it came to me, 'What if I went to somewhere else?'"
Harbath said she had to approach only one location to get an approval.
The event brought a hot meal to several hundred Ogden residents as well as the company of many who served them.
As the participants left, they received personal hygiene kits, blankets and canned foods to last them.
Celeste Tonga, a member of the Sullivan Hollow Second Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the event brought joy to many.
She organized an effort to collect 600 hygiene kits and a host of other donated items given to those who attended.
"It's been wonderful for us as well as those many people," Tonga said. "We're kind of needy in some ways, needing to help, needing to be kind."
Bishop Brant Beus of the Sullivan Hollow LDS Ward said members of his church were planning a service project on that day anyway when they heard about the community dinner and decided to join in.
"It was a real community effort," he said. "I love helping people. "It was a great opportunity to serve people in the area and to give back."
Included in the list of churches that helped were the Community of Christ Church, Congregation Brith Sholem, Elim Lutheran Church, First United Methodist Church, Forest Green Ward of the LDS Church, Old Post Ward of the LDS Church, Orchard Park Ward of the LDS Church, Satya-A Center for Conscious Living, Shadow Ridge Ward of the LDS Church, Sullivan Hollow First Ward of the LDS Church, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, and Washington Heights Baptist Church.
"It's about how we are all able to be here and help each other out, regardless of religion," Harbath said.
Church said his congregation wanted to use the event to get the attention of elected officials.
"It's about making it known to our elected officials that feeding people is a top priority," he said.
He noted that support from area grocery stores and restaurants was so extensive that members were dumbfounded.
The church plans to pursue a similar event in the spring.
The free community dinner was the main highlight of the Congregational United Church of Christ's 11-day campaign to address food injustice in the community and around the world.
The nationwide church for the first 11 days in November, under the name of the Mission:1 campaign, has sported a goal of collecting more than 1 million items for local food banks, raising $111,111 in online donations for hunger initiatives around the country and $111,111 for East Africa famine relief, and writing 11,111 letters to Congress asking that U.S. foreign assistance be reformed to more effectively serve the world's poorest people.
Businesses sponsoring the event included Bob Barker Co., Fresh Market, Kaffe Mercantile, Karen's Cafe, Macey's, Marshall White Center, McDonald's,
Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership and Smith's.