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Longtime volunteer Margaret Easton holds a fresh pan of cornbread, a favorite at the Religious Coalition for Community Renewal’s yearly beans and cornbread dinners. Easton has also cooked beans for the fundraiser for the past 25 years. This year’s to-go dinner event is slated for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18.

Staff members and volunteers for the Religious Coalition for Community Renewal will prepare and serve during the RCCR’s 25th annual Beans and Cornbread Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 18, a fundraiser held each year to support the Charleston-based social services agency’s programs throughout the Kanawha Valley.

Diners will be able to pick up their Southern-styled meals from 4 until 7 p.m. on the day of the event at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 900 Washington St., E., in Charleston.

There will be no sit-down dinners, RCCR Executive Director Kevin Jones explained, due to continuing social safety conditions during the pandemic.

“Like last year, it will be held as a to-go dinner with pickups between 4 and 7 p.m.,” Jones said. “We had hoped to have the dinner in person, but when COVID numbers started to surge, we felt it would be safer to hold it as a to-go event.”

The dinner menu will include beans, cornbread, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, coleslaw, and a sampling of desserts.

Margaret Easton has been making the beans each year the fundraiser has been conducted. “She is the sister of RCCR’s first executive director, Sandra Hamlin,” Jones said, adding “I would not dream of letting Margaret go. She prepares some of the best down-home Southern cooking comfort food you will taste.”

Volunteers bake a variety of desserts to complement and complete the beans and cornbread dinners as well.

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“The event serves as a fundraiser for RCCR’s affordable housing programs,” Jones said. “This past year, RCCR expanded with several supportive services for the unsheltered, including the first Transitional Storage Center in West Virginia to provide a safe place for people experiencing homelessness to store their personal belongings, and a Street Outreach team – Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement, or HOME — that operates in the daytime, evenings and weekends.”

Jones said the outreach team identifies and engages people living in unsheltered locations, such as in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, encampments or on the streets.

“We know homelessness doesn’t end at 5 p.m.,” he said, “so we need to adapt to meet the needs of those we serve.

“Since the program launched last month, we have served over 200 unduplicated, unsheltered neighbors in the Kanawha Valley. The outreach team coordinates efforts among four agencies to assist our unsheltered neighbors who might not otherwise seek assistance or come to the attention of the homelessness service system and ensures that people’s basic needs are met. These new programs provide a pathway toward housing stability with resources and connections to housing providers.”

Tickets for the beans and cornbread dinner cost $75 each. They can be purchased at the event or in advance via the RCCR website, www.rccr.org, or by calling the RCCR’s offices at 304-346-6398.

“Other ways to support RCCR include donations like underwear, gloves, hats, coats and blankets,” Jones noted.

Established in 1987, the nonprofit RCCR is a membership organization with more than 30 religious interfaith congregations making up its membership.

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