A Martin business is honoring a woman who loved to cook for others by offering a free meal to any person who would otherwise eat alone on Thanksgiving.

Triangle Market, located at the “Y” intersection on Ky. 122, is hosting its third annual Berchie Case Memorial Thanksgiving dinner from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28.

The meal is held “in honor of a lady who loved to cook and feed anyone and everyone,” the business reported online.

Berchie Spurlock Case died at the age of 95 in March 2018, leaving behind her sons Harold and Wesley Case, daughter Janice Case and dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Her husband Andrew preceded her in death, as did three of her children, a grandchild and five sisters.

Her son Wesley and his wife Lynn Case bought the Triangle Market about seven years ago and, three years ago, they started hosting the Thanksgiving meal for people who would otherwise be alone on the holiday. Their daughter suggested naming the meal in honor of her grandmother this year.

“Basically, it started because when bought the store, we started meeting a lot of people who didn’t have anyone. They come here to eat and they don’t have a spouse any longer ... and they’re just lonely,” Lynn said.

Wesley explained that the meal is being served for people or couples whose children have moved away or whose loved ones have died or who, for any other reason, would be eating alone on Thanksgiving.

He said, “There’s a lot of people, and we certainly want to help people in need. We certainly want to do that, but for this dinner, we try to target the people that are lonely, who don’t have anybody to eat with.”

Lynn said Berchie would offer to cook a meal as soon as visitors came to her door.

“If you walked in her door, the first thing she wanted to do was, she’d say, ‘Let me cook you some food,’ or, ‘Have you ate today?’ or, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have food right now,’ but she was going to make something. She was that type of person ... That’s how we socialize in Eastern Kentucky is through food.”

She said they started serving the dinner on Thanksgiving after getting to know some of their customers.

“If you just meet some of the people that we meet,” Lynn said. “The store’s hard work, and the cafe’s really hard work, but it’s rewarding, too, because you do get to be friends and get to know people that you would have never got to know. And you know they’re sitting at home by themselves on the very holiday while everybody else is enjoying it with their family ... I just can’t even imagine sitting in a house on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas with nobody. Eventually, I might be there, I don’t know, but right now I just find it hard to imagine. If we can stop that for some people, that’s what we want to do.”

The first year the Triangle Market hosted the meal, it was in the process of remodeling an adjacent building into The Cafe at the Triangle Market.

“The first year that we did this, we hadn’t opened The Cafe yet, but we were almost ready to open it. So, we just did it on folding tables,” Lynn said. “Everything wasn’t as pretty as it is now, but it worked.”

That year, one of the guests was a woman whose son had previously died and whose daughter lived in another area.

“She could have bought a dinner. It wasn’t anything to do with that,” Lynn said, “but she didn’t have anybody to eat with. So, she came here and she ate with us and she hung out. We all just sat and talk with them and serve them food and just, you know, act like you do when you’re with your family. We just have fun.”

That year, they also met a man who ate and talked with Lynn’s father about the coal mining for two hours. She said this meal is about providing socialization and giving people a chance of “not being sad and lonely.”

Lynn said volunteers are taking meals to the Minnie Senior Citizens Center because some senior citizens there can’t travel to The Cafe.

“Then, they’ll have Thanksgiving dinner and it will feel like Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.

She encourages residents who know of senior citizens or disabled residents who are “shut-in” and not able to travel to the Cafe at the Triangle Market on Thanksgiving to stop by and pick up meals to take to them.

“If you know somebody’s who shut-in and you want to run in here and take them a dinner to them, we want you to know that you can do that,” she said.

The Triangle Market served about 250 people last Thanksgiving and sent the leftover meals to nurses and staff working at the hospital in Martin on that day.

“Because they weren’t getting a traditional holiday, either. They were working,” Lynn said.

The Triangle Market has been a staple in the Martin community for decades. The Case couple bought it in 2012 from Wiley Elliott, whose family opened the business in 1961. Lynn said Elliott helped a homeless man who needed a job by giving him an apartment above the business — one of the things that inspired her to become a member of the committee that created the East Kentucky House of Hope homeless shelter in Martin.

She and Wesley are actively involved in several other community programs, including programs that help students and families in need.

For more information about the business, visit the Triangle Market on Facebook.

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