Biloxi First Methodist Church Holds Farewell Thanksgiving Dinner

You can tell Teresa Lee has spent a lot of time in the recovery headquarters kitchen at Biloxi First United Methodist Church.

"You want to check out our collards," Lee says walking through the kitchen.

It's familiar territory for her daughter Elizabeth as well.

"Would you like some stuffing," Elizabeth asks a volunteer in the chow line.

But for all those times they've left their Wilmington North Carolina home to come here, husband and super dad Murrie has them all beat.

"It's just amazing, says Disaster Recovery Team Leader Ray Marshall. "Eighteen trips right. Can you believe that?"

Eighteen, 16 hundred mile round trips earned Murrie and his family special honors at this years community Thanksgiving Dinner. The fact that it's the last such event that will ever take place here make's it a bitter sweet farewell.

"Yes it is," says Murrie. "The people down here have enriched our lives more than they really realize. So yeah, it is bitter sweet."

The hurricane damaged church turned recovery headquarters is closing and will soon be torn down.

"We've got volunteers from 28 states that's been to this church," says Marshall. "A little over 3000 volunteers, 3015 I think I counted the other day and 606 came from North Carolina."

Murrie and his family have had a lot to do with bringing those volunteers to Mississippi.

"Every time I get in the car, and we always love to cross the Mississippi state line," says a tearful Teresa. "We love the sign because it's like coming home."

And though they'll stay and work from a different headquarters, the Lee's vow to return, with friends, many more times.

"We have some strong relationships down here now and we'll continue," says Murrie. "We may even come back next year for Mardi Gras. We were here last year for Mardi Gras."

by Don Culpepper