SAFE, along with the Sylacauga Promise Committee and Footwash Ministries has partnered with local schools, businesses, churches, and individuals to provide a warm Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day to those in need. Margaret Morton, SAFE executive director said everybody across the community participates. That includes schools, the hospital, churches, ministries, and individuals.
“We’re expecting to serve 2,000 meals,” she said. “When we started out we served 250 meals. Last year we served 1,700 and now we’re up to 2,000. It has grown significantly.”
Morton said that Sylacauga High School raised more than $500. She also said that all the local schools donate to the effort. The hospital will do all the preparation of the vegetables with the exception of Footwash Ministries. They will also provide the paper products.
Bryan Taunton, President of Footwash Ministries, said he is participating by being a support mechanism. His ministry is providing green beans, macaroni and cheese, and pecan pies.
“KFC has given us the use of their kitchen free of charge to prepare that portion,” Taunton said. “People are giving up their Thanksgiving Day to go and serve.”
Henry Looney, Pastor at Reaching The World Bible Church, said it was a blessing from the KFC family to volunteer their kitchen. Looney’s church has been hosting the Thanksgiving dinner since its conception.
“The whole community gets involved,” he said. “Last year 1,700 meals were delivered. It seems impossible, but it gets done ever year.”
Looney said some meals are delivered to homes, while others may choose to come to the church and eat their meal there, in the company of others. Last year, Looney said approximately 250 people ate at the church. Morton said 90 percent of the meals are delivered and 10 percent are eaten in house.
Morton said each plate has a sticker with who the plate goes to, how many go to that address and the direction. A lot of volunteers help to get the meals out, she said.
Looney emphasized that the Thanksgiving dinner is not just for those who are in need.
“It’s also for people that are lonely,” he said. “We invite them to come to the church. They can even call and get a ride to the church. It’s a wonderful atmosphere.”
Taunton said the dinner has grown exponentially every year, which is the reason his ministry came to help this year.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “The wonderful thing about it is the fulfillment you feel thanks to our Lord. We are honoring him by going and serving someone else. It makes for a wonderful Thanksgiving. So many people are hurting without jobs. This is an awesome opportunity for the community to join together and serve.”
Looney said they have devotion in the sanctuary Thanksgiving morning. We thank everybody and let them know what we’re doing, he said. After that, he described it as organized chaos.
Taylor Logan, coordinator for the dinner, said everything is going great. This year turkey and ham will be served, she said. Last year only turkey was served.
“We had an anonymous donor donate the ham,” Logan said. “That’s a new addition to the plates.”
The actual dinner is from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The volunteers start heating the dressing as early as 7 a.m.
“It’s an all day event,” Logan said. “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers. It’s a community effort. People give up their time selflessly to come and be apart of this.”
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