Ag Hall hosts 50th Community Thanksgiving Dinner

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"I love to see a community come together", she said. They didn't know anyone in the area, but saw an advertisement for the dinner 14 years ago, and made a decision to swing by.

"I think it was our biggest year", she said of the event that has been happening for 11 straight years.

Those with the church say this is an important part of their outreach.

"I've been here since 6 this morning", said Mildred Tomblin, the G.O. Development Corp. cook Mildred Tomblin.

Being able to help out with the meal is what volunteer Searcy Toliver said she is grateful for this season. Everybody wants to do this.

Cushinberry said his father helped find other, larger locations for the dinner, including the Kansas National Guard Armory at S.W. 27th and Topeka Boulevard, the basement of the Municipal Auditorium at 214 S.E. 8th and - finally - Ag Hall on the grounds of the Kansas Expocentre.

"I love to see the smile on their faces".

Volunteers at the meal were also spending time with their families.

On Thursday, 830 meals were delivered to people in Winchester as well as Clarke and Frederick counties.

"There's linen tablecloths", she said, pointing to the brown and orange cloths draped over the church's dozen round tables, "the tables are beautifully decorated, and [guests] can be served with the respect and dignity they deserve".

"We've gone and picked up people, especially seniors that have a hard time getting around. It all just kind of depends on the weather".

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"It's a great volunteer activity because we gain as much as we give". Jeff Smith, St. Susan Center executive director, said they wouldn't be able to provide meals to those in need without volunteers on Thanksgiving or any of the 361 days the nonprofit organization is open, which also includes Christmas and Easter.

"This is a wonderful way of serving people", Cairns said.

Church member Rich Johnson came in around 2 or 3 a.m.to get 10 turkeys started.

Church member Heather Housel is one of the many volunteers who have participated in the dinner in each of its eight years.

The support of the community is how Home Meals Delivery has continued to help feed the hungry through three decades.

"And that is what really matters - is that there is somebody who doesn't feel left out in the community because they don't have a place to go".

"I enjoy helping people".

The event first served about 70 people, Guza said. "They come back year after year". "Everything is so good". Diners chose from a spread including glazed carrots, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, ham, squash, homemade pumpkin pie and five interpretations of turkey: roasted, jerk, smoked, fried and barbecued.

"It's just really nice to get out of the house and not be alone and be with the community", Ellison said.

"I don't know how many years it's been, but it's been a long, long time".

"I'm thankful for just being alive - the world is so insane right now", he said.

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