The Alley serves up more than 300 free Thanksgiving Day meals

A Seymour woman spent most of her Wednesday evening prepping turkeys for The Alley’s annual dinner to provide free meals to anyone in the community in need of a Thanksgiving meal.

Then at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, Frances Prentice returned to the kitchen at The Alley at 505 Community Drive on the city’s west side and went back to work.

“I took the turkeys out, put the hams in, got the potatoes cut up and all that good stuff,” she said in preparation for the serving of the meals.

That started at 2 p.m. and ended at 6 p.m.

“I usually get out of here about 4,” Prentice said Thursday. “So I do 12 hours today.”
Prentice has been in charge of preparing the Thanksgiving Day meals for The Alley for six years now.

This year, Prentice said she prepared eight huge turkeys, seven huge hams along with 100 pounds of potatoes and 50 pounds of sweet potatoes.

“I also did three big pans of green bean casserole,” she said.

Prentice said she worked by herself Wednesday but had help Thursday morning.

“I have had three people who had been here since 7,” she said. “They pulled the turkeys and cut up ham and help prepare everything else.”

All of that food preparation led to about 160 meals being sent to the Jackson-Jennings Community Corrections Work Release Center on Dupont Drive on the east side of the city and another 150 meals served at the church.

“Plus, we did 20 to-go,” Prentice said.

There also was a drawing for about 25 free food baskets during the event.

The food for the Thanksgiving meals — the 12th one provided by The Alley — was donated by businesses, churches, individuals and other organizations in the community.

“We just want to thank everyone who has donated,” said Sara Bowling, who is The Alley’s kitchen manager.

Bowling said more than 20 people helped prepare and serve meals and then helped with cleanup on Thanksgiving Day.

She said it a takes a lot of people to pull it off.

One of those is Troy Wagoner, who lives in Bedford and makes the trip each year to help on Thanksgiving Day. He is on the board of The Alley.

“I used to live in the Medora area, but I had to move back to Bedford,” the Lawrence County native said. “I made the gravy and two big broccoli casseroles. I love to cook and garden.”

Wagoner said he was introduced to The Alley about 10 years ago.

“I love The Alley,” he said. “I love the people here. My brothers and sisters in Christ are here. They are some of the best friends I have ever had.”

Jill Otte of Seymour along with her two daughters and her three grandchildren spent the afternoon cleaning tables and helping carry food to the tables for anyone needing it.

“My daughter, Tiffany Otte, helps with serving at The Alley and comes to worship on Fridays, and she also comes to help out on pantry days,” Otte said. “Today, my family wasn’t getting together, so we decided to come here to The Alley to help serve.”

Otte said she and her daughters were trying to teach the younger ones about serving the community.

“This is my first time,” she said. “It is a blessing I cannot describe.”

The efforts of Prentice, Otte and the many other volunteers involved in preparing and serving the meals didn’t go unnoticed.

“It’s wonderful,” Barbara Hollin of Seymour said as she was picking up eight meals to take home. “A lot of people here live on fixed incomes. I am helping my grandkids out because my daughter doesn’t have any money.”

Sara Bowling, kitchen manager for The Alley, prepares a Thanksgiving meal for Barbara Hollin, also of Seymour, on Thursday afternoon at the church at 505 Community Drive in Seymour.

Aubrey Woods | The Tribune

Pastor Angel Armstrong with Trinity United Methodist Church in Seymour, right, prepares a meal on Thursday during The Alley’s free Thanksgiving Day meal. Frances Prentice, also of Seymour, left, was in charge of preparing the 320-plus meals served during the event.

Aubrey Woods | The Tribune

Tiffany Otte of Seymour cleans up a high chair during The Alley’s free Thanksgiving Day meal on Thursday at the Seymour church.

Aubrey Woods | The Tribune

Sara Bowling, who is the kitchen manager for The Alley, carries a food basket that was later given to one of those attending the church’s free Thanksgiving meal.

Aubrey Woods | The Tribune

Frances Prentice of Seymour prepares a meal Thursday for Richard Bedwell of Seymour during The Alley’s annual free Thanksgiving Day meal program.

Aubrey Woods | The Tribune

Frances Prentice of Seymour helps Troy Wagoner of Bedford pour gravy for the free Thanksgiving prepared and served by The Alley on Thanksgiving Day in Seymojur.

Aubrey Woods | The Tribune

The gymnasium at The Alley at 505 Community Drive in Seymour provided a peaceful setting for those attending The Alley’s 12th free Thanksgiving Day meal.

Aubrey Woods | The Tribune