By ROSIE GITHINJI
MT. VERNON —
Planning Thanksgiving dinner for family is hard enough, but planning Thanksgiving for 1,650 people sounds like it would be almost impossible.
Sixteen years ago, the Community Thanksgiving at Central Christian Church served 150 people dinner. Last year, 1,650 people were served, and organizer and volunteer Steve Reynolds said the dinner just keeps growing.
Reynolds has been volunteering and organizing the Community Thanksgiving dinner since it first began. The dinner was originally started by a local physician and was picked up by Reynolds when the doctor was no longer able to host the meal.
The meal is open to the community and anyone interested is invited.
“People are just happy to be together that day,” Reynolds said. “It doesn’t have to be financial. What we find is that there are so many people who are alone. Maybe people can’t afford to buy dinner items or they are lonely.”
Volunteers will also be delivering meals to the homes of elderly, disabled or homebound people, but they must contact the church by Wednesday, Nov. 21, to have their name taken. There will be no general delivery of meals, Reynolds added.
“We are willing to work with anybody who needs food brought to them,” he said, explaining that once the names are collected for delivery, a delivery route is mapped out and then the dinners are delivered.
The Community Thanksgiving is made possible by donations and volunteers. Volunteers are needed for any number of jobs, from cooking, cleaning, serving, deliveries and even monetary donations, among other things.
“We [still] need volunteers to come out and share the day with us. It’s been overwhelming to see the response from everyone,” Reynolds said. “Of course we need everyone’s prayers. We put it in Gods hands, he has always supplied us with enough donations to do the meal.”
Most everything for the Thanksgiving dinner is prepared at the church, Reynolds said. The planning is well underway now, with schedules being developed, the food has already been ordered and during Thanksgiving week, Reynolds takes vacation time from work to coordinate everything.
“We have been doing it for so long that now it runs very, very smooth. It’s just a great day to be part of a huge family,” he said. “Yes it is a lot of work, but it is a lot of fun. We hope we are making a difference”
The church is also conducting a coat drive in conjunction with the Thanksgiving meal. Reynolds asks that people donate any gently worn coats — in all sizes, as well as gloves, hats and other cold weather items.
The meal will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Nov. 22, at Central Christian Church, located at 301 North 10th Street. Those who may wish to volunteer or donate may contact the church at 242-4185.