Food City to sponsor ‘Feast of Joy’ to benefit The Shepherd’s Inn

Published 9:08 am Monday, November 13, 2023

A longtime annual fundraising dinner that was interrupted by the COVID pandemic is returning, thanks to Food City’s sponsorship.
The Shepherd’s Inn, a safe house and emergency shelter, will resume its 22nd Annual Feast of Joy Christmas Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, at Elizabethton First Baptist Church, 212 East F St. A limited number of reservations are available and can be made by calling 423-543-1931. This year’s entertainment will include an ensemble from The Appalachian Express Chorus.
“This community Christmas fundraising dinner has returned after the challenges with COVID, and we are excited to again bring this traditional meal and raise the funds to sustain our emergency shelter for women and their children,” said Paul Gabinet, executive director of the shelter, in a release.
When the dinner began in 1998, the Mountain Empire Chapter of the American Culinary Federation prepared the meal. Chef Eric Hoglund, the former executive chef at Johnson City Country Club and past president of the Culinary Federation, prepared the meal.
“Sadly, Chef Eric passed unexpectedly,” Gabinet said. “A wonderful friend who loved The Shepherd’s Inn, Chef Eric faithfully brought his culinary skills and contributed wonderful meals to our fundraising event. Our guests came to know Chef Eric and looked forward to his cuisine. The shelter’s board was faced with a tremendous challenge to continue the quality that Eric provided. Thankfully, prayer and good friends came to rescue us.”
That rescue came through Food City.
“We are thrilled that our culinary friends with Food City will provide the entire entreé and desserts,” said Michael Hawkins, The Shepherd’s Inn Board of Directors president. “Food City has an amazing culinary team who is accustomed to catering events, and their sponsorship of the Feast of Joy brings a wonderful gift and partnership.”
Prior to the meal, guests are treated to the wassail and hors d’oeuvres that are provided by restaurants throughout the Elizabethton community. Gabinet said many restaurants have contributed their finest pre-dinner treats since the beginning of the Feast of Joy, which has mainly been held at Elizabethton First Baptist Church.
“This wonderful church has been faithful to this dinner and to the shelter,” Gabinet said. “The church is always incredibly decorated and presents a genuine feeling of welcome. How blessed we have been to be associated with and supported by this wonderfully caring congregation. “
For the entire 22 years of the Christmas dinner, Carter County 4-H students have served the meal. “Again, these amazing young people have connected with our guests in such a positive manner. Some of these 4-H students continue to contribute helping with the dinner many years since their time as a server,” Gabinet said. “Roger Clark, who was a young server, now is the University of Tennessee Extension Agent who directs the Carter County 4-H Students. Lucas Hitechew continues to participate with each dinner by providing lots of laughs during the evening. We are thankful to have the support of each of these students and those who are now adults.”

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