Nov. 24—BLUEFIELD — All the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner were distributed Wednesday to people in need and a hot Thanksgiving dinner is being served today for people seeking a meal with fellowship.
Volunteers met early Wednesday morning at the Bluefield Union Mission and started packing food bags for people who might otherwise not enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner today. The bags were distributed soon after they were prepared, and the mission will begin serving Thanksgiving dinner at 10:30 a.m. today.
Canned corn and green beans, stuffing mix, stacks of pumpkin pies, tables filled with rolls and more were ready for packing. Frozen turkey breasts were being carried out of a walk-in freezer while volunteers got the brown paper shopping bags ready.
"We had about 300 families sign up, and we expect most of them to show up," said Executive Director Craig Hammond. "About 150 to 200 people come on Thanksgiving Day."
Students from Tazewell County, Va. helped pack and distributed hundreds of turkey dinners. EMS Instructor Rosanne Scott of the Tazewell County Career & Technical Center came with members of a student society called Health and Occupation Students of America (HOSA).
"We're here to help out however we can today," Scott said as she got double bags ready with her students and other volunteers. "Part of the HOSA mission is to be good stewards of the community and to help promote health and wellness. They're learning to give back to the community and they're helping to promote HOSA's overall mission."
Student Megan Call was helping out at the union mission for the first time.
"I just wanted to give back to the community and to have a new learning experience," she said as she worked.
Distributing the food bags the day before Thanksgiving and serving the hot meal on Thanksgiving Day has worked well, Hammond said. The mission has provided Thanksgiving dinners for decades.
"This is the 91st year. The first one was on Thanksgiving of 1931 and we've done it every year since," he said. "It's been a nice streak. We will be serving dinner from 10:30 a.m. to until nobody shows up anymore. I think on Thanksgiving Day they're handing out warm coats, blankets and everything else."
All the food for the Thanksgiving dinner bags and today's hot Thanksgiving dinner was donated. Grants Supermarket, Food City and church groups "too numerous to mention" supplied the groceries the union mission needed to help people be truly thankful on Thanksgiving.
"I think everything has been (donated)," Hammond said. "I can't think if we purchased anything. We did get monetary donations from individuals for things we might be short of."
Hammond said that he often thinks of Thanksgiving as "the forgotten holiday." It comes between the parties and trick-or-treat of Halloween and the gift giving on Christmas Day.
"Whenever somebody sees a happy person, they're seeing a thankful person," Hammond said.
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