Free Turkey Day dinner draws a crowd
PRINCETON — Thanksgiving might have felt somewhat cold outside with overcast skies up above, but inside the Evangelical Covenant Church, the forecast was for warm welcomes, sunny, smiling faces and plenty of traditional Turkey Day nourishment.
The 19th annual free Thanksgiving dinner was organized by three churches — Covenant, St. Louis Catholic and New Hope Nazarene — with an abundance of help from the community.
Tad Smith, who co-chaired the noontime event with Tim Harris, said Sullivan’s Foods, Walmart, HyVee and Myrtle’s Pies made donations, as well as church members who brought in food items to share with scores of attendees.
“It’s been great. It’s a community effort for the community,” Smith said as he paused from stirring a serving container of turkey.
“We get people that don’t have any family in the area, or they don’t want to cook a big meal for themselves, so they come here,” he said.
Families also turn out, as well as people who don’t have much themselves.
“We have a lot of people that have a need, so hopefully we’re fulfilling that need,” Smith said.
“A lot of it is just, come here, enjoy the dinner, and then sit and talk.”
Decorated tables with centerpieces greeted attendees, as well as the fragrance of roast turkey and other goodies from the church’s ample kitchen.
Also on the menu: mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, other casseroles, rolls, cake, cookies and pie. To wash it down, attendees could choose from coffee, lemonade, iced tea or water.
Volunteers dished out servings to people who held Chinet plates that quickly filled with tasty food as they made their way through the serving line.
Harris said it wasn’t just people who traveled to the church who were fed.
“We’ve made well over 50 deliveries today for those who were not able to get here,” he said.
In other instances, people stopped by to pick up carry-out meals.
“It’s gone very well today, and as you can see, we get more and more people coming, and that’s what it’s all about,” Harris said.
Harris praised the “many, many wonderful volunteers that have come.”
Smith also thanked the helpers, including Covenant Church youth group members who came in early Thursday to peel potatoes.
“I just want to thank everybody for helping out,” he said.
“We’re really excited and pleased to be able to do this,” Harris added.