Volunteers serve 365 Thanksgiving dinners

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 29, 2013


It just gives you a good feeling. That was the sentiment expressed over and over again by the volunteers who organized, prepared, plated, served or delivered 365 meals yesterday at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

Tammy Portemont organized the preparation. That would be a dozen turkeys, eight pans of dressing, two-and-a-half cases of green beans and a similar quantity of yams.

“It’s just a way to give back,” she said. “I’m worn out when it’s over, but it makes you feel good.”

Jonathon and Catherine Weed volunteer each year, along with their grandfather, John Earl Duggan.

Jonathon recalled being told that he had made someone’s day by helping their family with a Thanksgiving meal.

“It feels really good to help others,” he said.

Catherine agreed.

“When you help, you feel like you’ve done something,” she said. “Sometimes one little thing makes a big difference.”

Callen Woodard volunteered for the third consecutive year.

“I like to see the people,” she said, adding that it makes her realize, “We are so blessed.”

The holiday dinners served at Thanksgiving and Christmas were originally called ACORN dinners and organized by Josephine Mosdell. After her death, they were renamed Jo’s Community Dinners in her honor. The effort is organized at St. Mary’s and supported by contributions from other churches and civic organizations.

This year was one of the largest crowds ever. The Rev. Cindy Howard, rector of St. Mary’s, said she believes the church’s monthly rice and beans program contributed to the growth in numbers. Once each month, the church provides rice, beans and other staples to those in need, and serves recipients a hot breakfast.

“There’s a comfort level there now,” she said. “They are familiar with us and the know the food will be good.”

Lesa Syler, who is director of the Covington County Department of Human Resources, was among those serving plates yesterday. Her daughters were with her.

“This is the good part of what we do,” she said.

Syler said local food banks have reported an increase in demand for food, part of which she attributes to an increased awareness of the availability.