By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
No one in Enid need spend Thanksgiving hungry or alone, with several local churches offering full Thanksgiving meals to those in need, people without family in the local area, and anyone in the community who wants to come out and share a meal with their neighbors.
First Baptist Church and St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church will host free Thanksgiving dinners 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, and Salvation Army of Enid will host a free Thanksgiving dinner 6 p.m. Thursday.
The First Baptist Church event is a full dine-in dinner at the church at 401 W. Maine.
“We would love to invite anyone who is short on funds and those who don’t have family with them this year,” said Shirley Suttle, ministry assistant at First Baptist Church.
Suttle said the annual Thanksgiving dinner draws in about 200 people for homemade dinner and desserts.
“We see so many people in the community who need to have that option and that ministry available to them,” Suttle said. “We just do this to help out in the community. It’s a way for us to love on the people of Enid.”
Knights of Columbus will host its annual Thanksgiving dinner 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church’s Leven Center.
The dinner is open to anyone in the community.
Leroy Patocka, who co-chairs the free dinner with his brother, Al, said the event is “one of the ways we give back to the community.”
Patocka said the Thanksgiving lunch at the Leven Center feeds those who would normally receive meals at Our Daily Bread, which is closed on Thanksgiving, plus anyone else in the community who wants to attend.
About 20 members of the Knights of Columbus will spend today preparing the meal, Patocka said. The meal will include turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, rolls and salad. Women from the Knights of Columbus auxiliary will bake pies for dessert, Patocka said.
Last year, the organization served 444 plates, which includes those who came to the Leven Center to eat and meals delivered to shut-ins.
Anyone who wants a meal but can’t come Thursday can call the Leven Center kitchen at 234-6882 today to have one delivered on Thanksgiving. Requests for delivery also will be taken Thursday morning, but Patocka said organizers prefer requests be made today so volunteers can plan the deliveries.
Patocka said Knights of Columbus has hosted the Thanksgiving meal for 24 years. Members keep volunteering, he said, because of the need in the community, and the rewards of helping those in need.
“When you look out over the people who are eating, and see the smiles on their faces and how pleased they are, that’s the reward you get out of it,” Patocka said. “It’s rewarding just knowing you’ve done something good for someone else.”
That spirit of giving will continue Thursday with the evening meal beginning at 6 p.m. at Salvation Army of Enid, 516 N. Independence.
Salvation Army Maj. John Dancer said the evening Thanksgiving dinner attracts about 100 guests for a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings and dessert.
In addition to the dine-in Thanksgiving dinner, Salvation Army staff and volunteers also have delivered 80 food baskets this week to local families in need.
Each basket included a turkey and all the sides and dessert for a full Thanksgiving meal.
The turkeys were donated by patrons at the Enid Walmart earlier this month during a “Turkeys for Tunes” drive sponsored by The House FM radio station. Donors received a Christmas music CD in exchange for donating a turkey, and 80 shoppers took the Salvation Army and The House FM up on the offer.
Salvation Army furnished the remainder of the food for the Thanksgiving meal baskets.
Dancer said the dine-in Thanksgiving meal and the food baskets do more than just offer holiday cheer to low-income families.
“It helps them save money,” Dancer said. “It costs a lot to put on a full Thanksgiving dinner, and the money they save with this can go to their electric bill or gas bill. This time of year, a lot of people find themselves having to pick and choose between the bills, and this helps them not have to do that.”
Dancer said volunteers are welcome to come out and help prepare and serve the Thanksgiving meal. Volunteers should show up at 5:30 p.m. at 516 N. Independence.
Volunteers also will be needed to help distribute gifts for the Salvation Army angel tree at Oakwood Mall on Dec. 20.
For information on volunteering to help with the angel tree or Thanksgiving dinner, contact Salvation of Army of Enid at (580) 237-1910.