Organizers prepare for east Arkansas community Thanksgiving

FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - Thanksgiving is a little over a week away, which means preparations are under way for the third annual community Thanksgiving dinner at Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Members of a committee working on the annual dinner met earlier this week to finalize plans for the event that includes volunteers cooking, serving and delivering meals to those in need in St. Francis County.

Several area churches are involved in the cooperative effort, including: Victory United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church of Forrest City, First United Methodist Church, Valley View Christian Center, Ridgewood Baptist Church, Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church, The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Palestine and Beck Spur Baptist Church. The two newest participants are Union Grove M.B. Church and Forrest City Baptist Church.

Dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Thursday, Nov. 22, with volunteers working much of next week to prepare the meals.

According to Berta Elphingstone, anyone wishing to volunteer to help is welcome, but most areas have been taken care of. "Everything is covered right now, and if people want to show up and help, we will not turn anyone away because we want as many people to be involved as possible," she said.

Anyone interested in volunteering may call the GMPC office at 633-4424. The effort provides complete Thanksgiving meals with meat, sides and desert for those in need.

"This is something we started doing collectively about three years ago, and it has just grown from there," said LaTwon Whitby, with the St. Francis County Food Pantry. "I think it is a great effort because it brings so many people together with the common goal of helping those less fortunate than ourselves. People really seem to appreciate it."

Meals will also be delivered on Thanksgiving, and St. Francis County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Shane Dallas is in charge of the deliveries. He said area first responders will handle delivering the meals.

"I really think we have the deliveries covered. Our first responders will take care of that. We'll have police officers, firefighters, paramedics, everyone pitching in to make those deliveries, and I think all of that is pretty much covered," said Dallas.

This year's effort is also being assisted by several civic groups and businesses.

"The Rotary Club is helping out, and Rep. Marshall Wright helped us get some hens. Core-Mark is also pitching in, and we have several youth groups that are going to help get everything cleaned up," said John Jordan with Ridgewood Baptist Church.

"The Alpha Angels are going to help, and Twillie's Tigers baseball team will do all of the cleanup. The Unified Riders will also help out," added Whitby.

The menu will include turkey and hen, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, green beans, corn and drinks, along with dessert including apple, pumpkin and sweet potato pies. The meal will be served in the GMPC fellowship hall.

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