Thanksgiving brings community together to feast

Emily Lashaway, 8, of Rudolph, eats her Thanksgiving dinner at the community center.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

There is something sacred about Thanksgiving, with its roasted turkey and trimmings, family and friends.

So when two local churches invite the community to Thanksgiving dinner, they want their guests to feel that warmth and welcome.

“It’s not a charity dinner,” said Lynn Eck of Christ’s Church. “It’s a ‘let’s get together’ dinner. It’s just a way to give back to the community.”

Tuesday’s feast was the 26th annual community Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Christ’s Church and Grace Brethren Church. It welcomes everyone to the table.

“It looks like we’re prepared for dinner guests,” Eck said as she looked over the busy dining room in the Bowling Green Community Center. “That’s important. For a lot of people this is their Thanksgiving.”

Desserts lined up for community dinner.

The menu featured the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, rolls and pie. The feast is cooked in mass quantities – so heaping helpings could be dished out for at least 500 guests. That included 18 turkeys, 24 industrial-size cans of green beans, 44 dozen rolls and 36 pies and cakes.

“Everything is doctored up a bit so it tastes like home,” Eck said.

And as usual, the guests at the 26th annual dinner came hungry and thankful for the free feast.

“Half of these people were here before we even started today,” Eck said.

Among those feasting in the massive dining room were Daneaka Nelson and Christian Wilson.

“It’s real good,” said Wilson, as she shook some Tabasco sauce – from the bottle she carries with her everywhere – onto her turkey.

Christian Wilson (left) eats dinner with Daneaka Nelson and her son, Talen.

But it was more than the hot meal that made the dinner special.

“I think it’s just gathering around family and going down memory lane, and eating a good home-cooked meal,” Nelson said.

At another table, Ken Fletcher had finished his meal while Barb Bumpus, both of Bowling Green, was still working on her plate.

“It’s getting together with people,” Fletcher said, as he greeted other guests walking past his table. “I drove taxi seven years in this town, so I know a lot of people.”

In the kitchen, volunteer cooks were scrambling to keep up with the steady demand. The meal relies on a dedicated team of volunteers from both churches. “Some of them, I don’t even know their names, but I see them here every year,” Eck said.

Volunteers serve up Thanksgiving dinner.

At one of the giant stoves in the back, Scott Dobransky and Chris Baker stirred up huge pots of broth for the potatoes, stuffing and gravy.

“We have to work fast, because it goes fast,” Baker said.

Their method was a mixture of following directions and just winging it.

“Then you stir it till it looks good,” Dobransky said.

Dobransky has been helping with the annual tradition for 20 years.

“I like to help people. I’m glad to help the community out,” he said.

Despite the mass quantities cooked up in the community center kitchen, Dobransky said it doesn’t quench his appetite for turkey when Thanksgiving hits on Thursday.

“Yeah, I love turkey,” he said.

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