450 turn out for Jo’s Community Thanksgiving

Published 12:07 am Friday, November 25, 2016

It was something akin to loaves and fishes – 36 roasted turkey breasts, four cases of corn, four cases of green beans, 12 commercial pans of dressing and more than 800 of Sister Shubert’s rolls became a Thanksgiving feast for approximately 450 people yesterday.

Tammy Portemont, who leads the kitchen effort for Jo’s Community Dinners hosted at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, said she regrouped and bought more groceries this week after 200 people participated in the church’s Rice and Beans outreach last Saturday.

“I felt like we would have a lot,” she said.

Prep began earlier in the week, and the ovens were cranked up at 7 Thursday morning. By noon, 404 plates had bee served, and 248 of those were delivered to people who were in need or alone for Thanksgiving.

Katie Scott and Susan Russell volunteered.

Katie and Susan Russell volunteered.

“Lots of the same people who participate in Rice and Beans were here,” organizer Jan Morris said. “I think they come here for lunch because they feel comfortable.”

If the guests were comfortable and well fed, they couldn’t have felt better than the somewhat tired volunteers.

“It makes you truly feel good to give back,” said Callen Woodard, an AHS junior who is a veteran volunteer. “It also makes you more thankful for all that you have.”

She worked with friends to package desserts, then greeted patrons as they arrived, and helped deliver meals.

Allen Woodard washes dishes.

Allen Woodard washes dishes.

C.J. Agro often volunteers for the effort, but was joined this year by her granddaughter, Eliana. Eliana’s job was to add rolls to the plates in the assembly line.

“I liked helping people,” she said.

Katie Scott of Brantley also was a first-time volunteer.

“This has been on my bucket list for a long time,” she said. “It was a very humbling experience.”

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. As awareness of the dinner has grown, so has the number of meals.

A meal also will be prepared on Christmas Day.

Financial contributions toward this outreach can be mailed to P.O. Box 1002, Andalusia, AL 36502.