Nearly every day, the man spends his lunch hour with the other regulars at Friendship Feast.

    And the day before Thanksgiving was no different.

    The Dodge City man, who asked the Daily Globe not to publish his name, joined the crowd for an early Thanksgiving meal Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church.


Nearly every day, the man spends his lunch hour with the other regulars at Friendship Feast.
    And the day before Thanksgiving was no different.
    The Dodge City man, who asked the Daily Globe not to publish his name, joined the crowd for an early Thanksgiving meal Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church.
    He said he came because the church's Friendship Feast program offers food for the body and for the soul.
    "You've got to have it: Friendship, feast," he said. "It's really for a good cause — fellowship."
    Across the table, Dodge City resident Loretta Johnson said she eats lunch with other Friendship Feast regulars as often as possible because they're almost like family.
    "This is kind of like our brothers and sisters, even though they ain't," she said.
    Diners packed the tables in the church's basement, savoring a meal of turkey or ham, sweet potatoes, dressing and dessert.
    Others stood in the serving line, greeting servers while they waited to pick up their food trays.
    Friendship Feast's cook and volunteer coordinator, Daniel Rincones, roamed through the dining area throughout the meal. He greeted people as they stood in line, asked diners if they had enjoyed the meal and urged them to go back for seconds.
    "Did you guys get full?" Rincones asked one group of diners, who answered with a chorus of "Yes!"
    Dodge City resident Geneva Torrez was seated at a table toward the back of the dining area, where she was chatting with her fiance, Manuel Rodriguez. She said she frequently enjoys lunch at Friendship Feast, which gives her a chance to see old friends and meet new people.
    "You meet all kinds of people here," she said. "It's a very friendly place."
    Volunteer Mari Martinez was manning the bread and dessert table along with another woman. After asking one diner if he needed help, she buttered his bread for him while he leaned over to snag a cookie.
    Martinez said that she had volunteered at Friendship Feast once before, and that Rincones had asked her to lend a hand for the pre-Thanksgiving meal. She said she had enjoyed meeting and serving the diners.
    "You get to get out and meet the community and help out," she said. "It feels good to help out and do my part."
    As the diners trickled out of the room after the meal, volunteers Becky and Brenda Cornitius relaxed at one table and chatted with Dodge City resident Alice Holopirek.
    Brenda Cornitius said she had arrived at the church shortly before 11 a.m. to assist with preparations, and she spent the next couple of hours working on the serving line. She added that she thought it was a rewarding experience.
    "You just enjoy giving back to the community," she said. "It's a mission for people who are hungry and people who are hungry for fellowship."
    Rincones said late Wednesday afternoon that his crew had served 150 people at Friendship Feast and dished up 179 meals altogether, including plates of food to go. And now that his work is done, he can enjoy the holiday with his family and cheer for his beloved Dallas Cowboys.
    He said that today's celebration will be a little more meaningful for him after serving the people at Friendship Feast.
    "Families get thicker and thicker, but this right here is my extended family," he said. "I love these people like family."

Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.