Forty to fifty volunteers help with meal
Did you hear the news? There was a Community Thanksgiving Dinner held at the First Baptist Church from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday for those in need, the homebound, or those having to miss their own family holiday meal due to work. You heard about it? Who told you?
It was not a secret but no one who helped with the preparations wanted to discuss his or her personal involvement. It was not because they were nervous, worried, or even embarrassed that they were there. It was because as they kept saying that the event was more important than their receiving any public attention for helping out in whatever small way they could. For them, it was an act of service that needed no explanation.
This was the 12th year of the event. In the past, the dinner has served 325 meals on the average with the highest total of 500 meals several years ago. The annual event also usually has 40-50 volunteers who help out with food preparations, delivery of meals and manning the serving stations. Why do they do it? "They do it," said one of the event coordinators Roger Penn, "because they want to participate in an event that is not about them. When we first did it, we realized it was the best Thanksgiving we ever had."
So early Thanksgiving morning, volunteers gathered at the First Baptist Church. While they hold the event at the church, the event is multi-denominational as there are other faiths represented. "It isn't about which group or which person is doing the work, it is about the work getting done," said a volunteer who asked not to be named. "We are here to help others, not take credit for doing it." The whole preparation process and the event itself follows a system perfected over the years.
Area residents and/or businesses donated all the food they serve, including 22 18-20 pound turkeys (anonymously donated), more than 40 pies, at least 150-200 pounds of potatoes, cases of stuffing mix, at least 18 #10 cans of green beans, and rows upon rows of dinner rolls. The preparation staff does its best to make what it can from 'scratch,' to give diners as close to a fully home cooked meal as possible.
This means peeling potatoes, lots of potatoes. Volunteers gathered around three tables and the bags of potatoes quickly disappeared as the groups worked quickly. Some peeled the potatoes while others chopped them and placed them into pans to be cooked and then mashed.
Another group dismantled the turkeys that had been cooked off site and brought in. The volunteers quickly separated white meat from dark meat and set aside legs and wings for placement in meals.
Off to one side, even another group spoke quietly about delivery routes for those meals that were to be taken to homebound individuals in the area.
They were a group wanting to serve their community. "The fact that we can serve up to 500 meals is amazing," said Penn. "Here in a community of about 12,000 people, we can reach out to those around us and help them have a happy holiday."