McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 26, 2012

Volunteers feed nearly 3,000 at community holiday dinner

By James Beaty
Staff Writer

McALESTER — Volunteers with the 27th Annual Pittsburg County Community Thanksgiving Dinner served or delivered nearly 3,000 meals for  the annual holiday event.

“We served between 2,950 and 3,000 meals,” said Jim Kelley, the former Pittsburg County assessor who is one   of those who assists in organizing the event.

Kelley said there were 2,950 regular trays served or delivered Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, before some additional trays were brought in after those ran out. Kelley didn’t have an exact count of those who ate from the extra trays, but guessed it was around 40.

Most of the meals were served in the form of home deliveries or were picked up as carryouts by those who wanted to eat their dinners at home. About 40 individuals participated in a sit-down dinner at the George Nigh National Guard Armory, said Kelley.

“It went real well,” Kelley said of this year’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner — although volunteers averted one possible crisis when the green beans ran low. A run by some volunteers to pick up some additional supplies resulted in enough green beans for everyone.

Kelley said it’s been difficult to gauge the amount of green beans needed, even though volunteers had made a special effort to ensure there were plenty for this year.

“We had bumped the numbers up from what they had least year,” Kelley said.

Some of the volunteers have finally decided that the manufacturer must be putting in more water and fewer beans in each can, Kelley said.

After the additional green beans were picked up Thursday, volunteers had plenty of all the entrées for the holiday meal, he said.

Volunteers fanned out across Pittsburg County delivering  the holiday meals consisting of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, green beans, rolls and pumpkin pie.

For a few minutes early Thursday, Kelley felt concerned abut whether there would be enough volunteers show up to make all the needed deliveries.

“We always get Hartshorne’s ready first,” Kelley said. That’s because volunteers in that city make all the deliveries in the Hartshorne area.

When 9 a.m. neared early Thursday, not that many volunteers had arrived at the armory to help with the deliveries, said Kelley, who’s usually seen more volunteers on hand by that time to assist with the Thanksgiving Day deliveries.

“I was getting nervous,” Kelley said.

He needn’t have worried, though. Volunteers soon started rolling in to help, many of them waiting in an outside area set aside for them to receive the trays they were delivering.

“About 15 minutes later, it was filled,” Kelley said.

Even the weather cooperated, which made it much more pleasant for those making deliveries as they waited outside the armory to pick up the meals they were distributing.

Those helping with the deliveries were among the many volunteers who helped make this year’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner a success.

“We had wonderful help,” Kelley said.

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