Friday, December 4, 2009

Feature: Pass the Gravy, Please

‘Pass the gravy, please’
Thanksgiving meal a success, thanks to volunteer staff

Editor's Note: This feature ran in the  Wednesday, Dec. 2, issue of the Siloam Springs Herald-Leader.
(Photos pending)

By Kaylea Hutson
SILOAM SPRINGS — For the last eight years, David Graves has spent the weeks leading up toThanksgiving making a simple request to people living within Siloam Springs.

He has asked people to help with the various pieces of the annual community Thanksgiving meal served at First United Methodist Church in Siloam Springs.

Graves knows from experience, it takes a team of volunteers - doing everything from preparing homemade desserts to serving and delivering meals - in order to meet the needs of the community on Thanksgiving morning.

This year, at least 60 people helped Graves serve or deliver approximately 375 meals, an increase of at least 75 meals this year.

That number also includes at least 200 carryout or delivery meals.

Graves said he couldn’t pull off the yearly outreach without the volunteers, joking that each year he does less and less as his team grows.

“I feel the volunteers have true servants’ hearts,” Graves said. “This lets them be the hands and feet of Christ, helping others in our community.” Giving thanks by volunteering

Several families came together to help serve the meal.

Judy Thomas joined in the efforts, after finding out that her son, Tony, and grandsons, Corey and Cody, planned to spend part of their Thanksgiving helping at the church.

“I like doing stuff like this,” Thomas said. “I want to help people by donating my time.”

Ten-year-old Laura Michael, helped with the dinner alongside her parents, Manville and Melissa, and her older sister,Megan.

Michael said helping with the meal made her feel good and gave her a chance to do something for others - not just for herself.

“I like helping people,” Michael said. “It makes me have a warm spot in my heart for them.”

Melissa Michael said she hoped both of her daughters learned through helping with the dinner that it’s more important to serve others than themselves.

Bobbilee Devore, 11, and hermother, Bobbi, came in time to dish up carryout and eat-in meals.

This was their first time to be at the dinner.

As they dished up potatoes and dressing into carryout plates, Devore said it was not only fun to help others, but doing so made her more thankful for her family.

For Lester Stone, this Thanksgiving marked the third time he and his now wife, Billie, have volunteered together on the holiday.

The pair met in 2007, while helping to serve the meal.

Stone said he gets a sense of peace and giving from helping with the meal.

“I look forward to it [each year],” he said. “Work knows that it’s really only the one day I ask off.” How it all began

Nine years ago, Graves learned that a friend wanting to help others on Thanksgiving had to drive in to Fayetteville toaccomplish the task.

That initial conversation, and a challenge by his pastor, led to Graves developing the community meal.

This was the eighth year for the outreach.

“I have a lot of fun doing this. I can’t imagine having Thanksgiving in any other manner,” Graves said.

Graves wife, Beth, jokes that both of their sons, Jonathan and Holden, look forward to helping with the meal each year.

“It’s what we do,” she said. “It’s Thanksgiving, so we go to church.”

She said 4-year-old Jonathan loves being around friends and family during the meal. She hopes that as he gets older, he learns and appreciates the service aspect of the meal.

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” Beth Graves said. “This is one way we express that.” Thanksgiving by the numbers

This year Graves prepared at least 143 pounds of boneless turkey, 60 pounds of ham, 80 pounds of mashed potatoes, “gallons and gallons” of gravy, and numerous pans of green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and dressing.

It takes approximately $1,400 - raised entirely through private donations, to pay for the meal.

Other than a few purchased pies, all of the desserts are provided by volunteers.

Lifestyles, Pages 9 on 12/02/2009

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...