As residents baste up for Thanksgiving, some were preparing delicious feasts Monday afternoon to get a head start.
But these Thanksgiving meals are not for their own stomachs; they are for hundreds of needy Lowndes County residents signed up for the annual Concerned Citizens of Ward 1 and Columbus Police Department Thanksgiving meal program.
“Oh, I love it because I get to do it for the community and elderly people,” said Sandra Pegues, Columbus Municipal School District food service supervisor and volunteer, while taking a break from helping prepare the food.
“I just love cooking food, helping people and helping in the community,” she added.
Volunteers will pack Stokes-Beard Elementary School in Columbus on Thursday morning to prepare the meals, which will then be delivered to the elderly and disabled who signed up to receive the feasts.
This didn’t start as a big event, though. It started almost two years ago when a group of women decided to start cooking and delivering meals to people in Southside Columbus.
“It was designed to serve around 50 people, and it has grown to this,” said Annie Barry, one of the founders of the event.
“It was done to supplement the Meals on Wheels, and that is not done on Thanksgiving,” she explained. “It’s not done on any holidays. So, we thought of this to give them a meal.”
The CPD became involved with the event around 10 years ago, and the goal is to feed 1,000 people this year, an increase from last year when the program delivered meals to 800 hungry people.
Barry is proud of the growth the event has had and loves seeing volunteers chip in their time to help the needy, the event also has a fellowship aspect.
“Those people might not have family come visit them, so it’s fellowship, too,” she said, “because that may be the only people they see all day.”
The meals include turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, candy yams and corn.
The CPD hosts an annual turkey drive in preparation for the program. This year, the department had an extraordinary donation. Eric Gun of Step Down Trucking Service and Tire Repair donated 25 turkeys, the largest single donation of turkeys since the program’s inception.
It takes more than 50 turkeys to prepare the Thanksgiving Day meals. Any donations beyond what’s needed for the meal-delivery program are given to needy families.
Anyone who wishes to volunteer can go to Stokes-Beard Elementary School on Thursday morning about 8 a.m. when the cooking begins. Organizers also will need help delivering meals and cleaning up afterward.
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