Carving the turkey properly for area Thanksgiving meals means carving out plenty of time months ahead to plan well.
So says the Rev. Charles Kennedy, pastor at Columbus Baptist Church, which served a record 1,288 meals, including delivery, dine-in and pickup last year. That includes extra meals for those at places such as Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and even staff at McDonald’s some years.
“We’ve tapped out doing this with the same number of volunteers,” Kennedy said. “And we have to still find a way to do it and be finished by 2 p.m. that day.”
So he and the team coordinating the free, homemade turkey-and-dressing Thanksgiving Day Feed the Flock outreach are seeking more helpers, preferably for at least two hours, for everything from meal assembly to cleanup from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 23 at the church, 4821 N. U.S. 31, on the northern edge of Columbus.
The church, just like others preparing either turkey and dressing or ham and dressing and the trimmings, makes the meals available to holiday diners not based on financial need, but simply as a way of making sure people have a festive dinner to celebrate.
All three local, longtime meal preparers — Columbus Baptist, First Christian Church and the American and Roby Anderson Community Center — began their meals years ago as a shared, community gathering for fellowship, in part to battle loneliness for those living alone or those with no family close by for the holiday. The COVID-19 pandemic changed that.
Columbus Baptist is now the only one still allowing the option of dining in, using classrooms for such, because its kitchen and fellowship hall completely are in use for meal preparation now.
All of the organizers still mention the importance of demonstrating love to others through a meal. And many diners, including older area residents, still say that preparing a turkey plus side dishes is more challenging for them today, especially if there are no relatives visiting.
Diane Doup with the nonprofit Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, working with First Christian regularly, has mentioned that meal deliverers taking a moment to visit especially with shut-ins is at least as important as the food.
“We always want to offer people not a holiday meal to eat, but we want to offer a time of personal contact while recognizing that some people may be lonely,” Doup said.
She added earlier this week that First Christian, which delivered 590 meals last year, almost has its 75-person volunteer list complete for Thanksgiving Day with meal deliveries beginning at lunchtime.
She lauded meal supporters such as church members and Taylor Brothers Construction/The Harmon Group’s The Joy of Giving program, also supporting the America and Roby Anderson Community Center’s deliveries that fed 400 people last year on the Saturday before the holiday. This year, following the same tradition, the center will deliver meals beginning at 11 a.m. on Nov. 18.
Beth Turner, president of the community center’s board, is happy to see the event enjoy a resurgence after it dipped in numbers.
“Last year, we saw a lot of new names on the reservation list,” Turner said.
A big help this year is Columbus’ Farmhouse Favorites bakery preparing the center’s turkeys. The center also is getting support from the Kroot Corp., Blackerby’s Hangar 5 Restaurant, and Texas Roadhouse.
Reserve a meal
Columbus Baptist: Paul Henderson at 812-371-1400. Reservation deadline is Nov. 20. To volunteer, Keri Dutcher, 812-314-9767.
First Christian: 812-379-4491. Reservation deadline is Nov. 20.
Anderson Center: (812) 799-0910.