The Thanksgiving holiday may have passed, but the message of charity and love put forth by some West Side church leaders is still resonating.

In what has become an annual tradition, Corinthian Temple Church of God in Christ, 4520 W. Washington Blvd., hosted an early Thanksgiving dinner for more than 100 community members on Nov. 19.

David Todd Whittley, the church’s senior pastor, said this year’s theme was to “Love Thy Neighborhood”. He said the church works alongside the Chicago Food Depository to stock its food pantry, the ingredients from which were used to create the meals. Event attendees were given the opportunity to take clothes from a giveaway as well as canned goods as they made their exit.

“This is an effort to reach out to those in the neighborhood to let them know that God loves them and we love them, too,” said Whittley.

While the church didn’t have an event on Thanksgiving Day, Whitley called providing a hearty meal prior to the holiday “joy”. He quoted scripture saying, “It’s better to give than to receive”.

“It brings a smile to your face to know that you are doing something for somebody else,” said Whitley. “As God has blessed us, we are obligated to be a blessing to somebody else.”

In addition to the food pantry, the church operates a community center where it offers social services through literacy programs, bill payment, an after school program, and a computer training program.

Cynthia Smith, a longstanding church member, offered her talents to help organize the event. She explained that each auxiliary group within the church was responsible for producing the menu, which included baked chicken, dressing, mixed vegetables, spaghetti, and dinner rolls. She was delighted to help her fellow man feel appreciated leading up to Thursday.

“We’re here to help the community and be a blessing to everyone that comes here,” said Smith. “It means a lot to see the people come in eat, fellowship, because there’s a lot of people out there that don’t have family so that’s what we’re here for to be a part of their family and to give them whatever they need.”

Youth volunteers Sydney Whittley, 12, and Breahana Smith, 17, gave their time, because they both share a desire to help their community, they said. In-between serving visitors and other tasks, the duo practiced their praise dancing routine.

“I like to give back on my spare time because I wasn’t doing anything so I decided to come to my church and help out,” said Smith.

Whittley said interacting with the community while serving is “an amazing experience”.

Eric White, who attended the event for the first time, said both the food and overall festivities were excellent, but the reception he received was what he was truly impressed with.

“It surprised me that there was this much love shown in this place,” said White, who hopes to attend again next year.