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CUMBERLAND, Md. — The Gateway West Church is calling on all area veterans and first responders to participate in a “Thank You for Giving” dinner on Oct. 16.

Organizers are anticipating anywhere from 500 to 600 people, said Herman Fiorita, a church representative, who has been a part of the congregation for two years and seen it grow from 20 to more than 100 people.

Fiorita approached Pastor Jason Smith and said the church should host a dinner for service members, first responders, health care professionals and their families.

On the day of the free dinner, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m., there will also be coffee and donuts from 7 to 10 a.m. at the church, located at 401 W. Industrial Blvd.

Fiorita said the church wanted to conduct the event last year but had to delay it due to COVID-19 concerns.

Plans are also in place to produce a booklet honoring area veterans and thanking those who helped to sponsor the dinner, Fiorita said.

Those interested in having a service member honored can send a card with the veteran’s name and branch of the service to Gateway West Church, 401 W. Industrial Blvd., Cumberland, MD 21502 by Sept. 30.

Organizers ask those submitting names to list if the veteran is living or deceased as there will be separate sections honoring each.

The event will feature an awards ceremony, live music by the Heavners gospel group from Cumberland, a presentation by the church youth and a keynote address by Pastor Bruce McBride. The dinner will be a traditional Italian, spaghetti dinner.

“Anybody in the tri-state area can come,” Fiorita said. “They do a heck of a job.”

Organizers ask that attendees bring identification.

The church also is conducting a free food giveaway Oct. 2 from noon until all food has been distributed.

For more information, call Fiorita at 301-707-7128.

Brandon Glass is a staff writer for the Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @Bglass13.

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Staff Writer

Brandon Glass is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @Bglass13