Today, as millions of Americans gather with family and friends around tables filled with love and food, they will do so with a feeling of safety. Not everyone is so lucky though. Some families find more to fear in their homes than to they do in the outside world. Some of those people have to flee their homes to find safety, and some will be spending Thanksgiving Day at the Grayson Crisis Center in Sherman.

Today, as millions of Americans gather with family and friends around tables filled with love and food, they will do so with a feeling of safety. Not everyone is so lucky though. Some families find more to fear in their homes than to they do in the outside world. Some of those people have to flee their homes to find safety, and some will be spending Thanksgiving Day at the Grayson Crisis Center in Sherman.


The Center provides a place of safety for women and their families, and today it will provide some of them with the first safe Thanksgiving they have celebrated in a long time.


Jonna, 38, and her three children have been at the shelter since Oct. 9.


"We spent last Thanksgiving in the hospital," Jonna said. She was recovering from a beating she received from a man she had been with for 10 years. He is now in prison. This year, she said, she is looking forward to eating in peace with her children.


"This year, it will be different because I am going to be able to be up and actually interact with my children," she continued.


The food Jonna’s family, and the rest of the residents at the Crisis Center, is being prepared especially for them by members of Grace United Methodist Church.


"The church has done this for many, many years, and then we stopped for a while and now we have done it for five years in a row," said Leigh Ann Kloppers, who has been in charge of the project for Grace.


"Our church just really has a great deal of love for the Crisis Center," Kloppers said indicating that she never has to work hard to get church members to help out with the project.


"I don’t even ask for volunteers to go and serve anymore, because I know I am going to have people who will just come up to me and say they don’t have anything else to do on Thanksgiving Day and they want to help," she said.


Rather than overwhelm the Crisis Center’s kitchen with a day or more of prep and cooking, Kloppers asks that the individual church members prepare their contribution in their own home and then drop it off at the church. Then she and other volunteers take it to the Crisis Center where it is warmed up or sliced up or finished off in any way needed.


She said the meal usually includes two turkeys and two hams and then all of the trimmings and side dishes most folks would expect to find at a Thanksgiving feast.


Another resident at the Crisis Center, who asked that she be identified as Tracey for this story, said she will miss cooking the Thanksgiving feast with her grown daughters. She spent 29 years in an abusive marriage and only found the courage to leave once the children were grown.


"So I am here by the grace of God to start my life all over again," Tracey said. She said she and the other residents are thankful for what the folks at Grace United Methodist are planning to do for them.


She said being away from her family and friends for the holiday will be hard, but she is finding comfort in the camaraderie of the other women at the shelter and in the counseling they are offered.


"We can vent with each other, because we understand what (life has been like) for each other," Tracey said.


Jonna said being at the Center, "is like a whole other life," and she is looking forward to the holiday season with her children, because she will finally, "be free to hold my kids and comfort them when they are crying or scared."


While she is looking forward to the Christmas holidays, she isn’t waiting on them: "I mean Thanksgiving and Christmas, I don’t treat any day any different. I am thankful everyday just to be able to wake up and be with (her kids), so to me everyday since I came here has been like Christmas and Thanksgiving."