Free Thanksgiving meals being served this week

Whether a person is in need of a meal, doesn’t have anyone to eat with or just wants to fellowship with others, local churches once again are stepping up to the plate this Thanksgiving.

From 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, a free traditional Thanksgiving meal will be available for dine-in, carryout or delivery at Community Church Brownstown, 117 W. Tanner St. People also may do carryout and delivery from New Life Missionary Baptist Church, 709 W. Bridge St., Brownstown.

Then from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday, a free meal will be available at The Alley, 505 Community Drive, Seymour.

Missy Collins, who attends Community Church and has helped organize the meal in recent years, said her goal is to give out 1,000 meals. They are available for anyone in Jackson County and will consist of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, bread and butter and dessert.

Thanks to a lot of donations, Collins said she was going to pick up the rest of what she needed this past Saturday.

“We had several people from the community monetarily donate, so it’s going to help cover all of the paper goods and the desserts we have left, just the odds and ends stuff that you don’t think about when it comes to doing this,” she said.

“It’s a true blessing,” she said of the community’s response to her recent Facebook post about food needed for the meal. “I teared up a few times with some phone calls that I’ve received. It’s just really how God works and how he supplies you with what you need in order to do this. He has done it every year. We’ve got some good people out there.”

While she has a lot of volunteers set to help, Collins said she will take more.

“If there’s anybody that wants to do deliveries or drive to drop things off, that would be awesome if we had some of those,” she said. “They just show up that day. We’ll have different directions for drivers to go.”

Collins has been a member of both churches involved in providing the free meals, and she said it’s great to see them come together.

“The group of people in both churches is just amazing,” she said. “I would say for both churches, it’s just a great honor and blessing to be able to do God’s work and be his hands and his feet and feed the people that are being fed. In this world today, I hope we reach people that really do need it because it’s sad that people aren’t going to be able to have things because they can’t afford it. I’m hoping that we release some of that off their shoulders.”

Collins also expressed appreciation to First Baptist Church of Brownstown for its monetary donation toward the effort.

“It is nice to know that their donation is helping support this even though they are not physically there,” she said. “They are giving us some funds to do it. It’s a true blessing.”

This is the 12th year for The Alley to host a free Thanksgiving meal.

Kitchen Manager Sara Bowling said they will be making enough food to serve 300 people. That will include 150 meals being prepared by volunteers and taken by members of Cornerstone Community Church to the Jackson-Jennings Community Corrections Work Release Center in Seymour for its residents.

“Last year was probably our smallest year, but it was our first year back dine-in since COVID, so I’m expecting more than last year,” she said.

The meal will include turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, stuffing, an assortment of desserts, soda, coffee, lemonade and iced tea.

Bowling said she also was really blessed with donations this year, and the only thing she could use are dinner rolls and cold salads, like coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad and garden salad.

“God has just worked everything out,” she said. “There’s nothing I think we need except for maybe some more rolls. We want the premade ones because our ovens are going to be full. We won’t be able to bake them. Then maybe some salads. We had Kevin Maxwell donate a lot of the food this year. We are great on that.”

She has many volunteers lined up to help but won’t turn anyone away who wants to come by.

“We are just asking for two-hour increments for volunteers because we know it’s a holiday, and we want to make sure that we’re not monopolizing people’s day,” Bowling said. “I know I have my prep volunteers. I’ve got that covered. I think I could probably use a handful more servers, and then of course, cleanup is always welcomed and appreciated.”

Along with the meal, Bowling said there will be food baskets to raffle off and free sweatshirts, hats and gloves for those who need them, and she hopes to have live music.

The Alley serves meals weekdays throughout the year, which is a big undertaking, and Bowling said even though it’s also a lot of work to organize the free Thanksgiving meal, it’s important to keep the tradition going.

“It has just been part of The Alley’s heart to show God’s love through food, so that’s what we do. It’s what we continue to do,” she said.

“I think it’s just important for all of us to be able to just let people know that there is a place that they can go, a place where they are wanted and a place where they are loved, whether they have family or not,” she said. “A lot of the cases, people just don’t have anywhere to go, and we just want to make that available for them.”