More than 100 volunteers gathered Thursday at St. James Catholic Regional School to prepare and deliver Thanksgiving meals to residents throughout Hardin County.
For more than three decades, area families in need have been fed on the holiday through a partnership between Helping Hand of Hope and area churches. This year, despite COVID-19, the tradition of giving back continued.
Because of COVID concerns, meals were given out strictly through carry-out or delivery. Other precautions included mandatory temperature checks for all volunteers and a mask requirement for anyone entering the building.
Volunteer Patti Stith said many volunteers began preparing food earlier in the week, while others prepared meals for distribution and still others volunteered to take the Thanksgiving feasts to recipients in their homes. She noted Rafferty’s, Ruby Tuesday, and Hardin County Schools’ Early College and Career Center assisted with making the turkeys.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said with a laugh, noting the first committee meeting for the event is held in October.
Stith’s family has been volunteering with the dinner for roughly 20 years.
Volunteering for the first time at the Thanksgiving meal event this year were Sabrina and Breanna Barner. For at least a portion of their time at St. James, the mother-daughter team stayed busy filling containers with gravy.
“We started doing some volunteer work and (Breanna) loves it. So we’re just looking for places in the community to volunteer,” Sabrina Barner said. She said they heard about Thursday’s event at church.
The Thanksgiving event, which has become a family tradition for many, began in 1986.
Elaine Alicna has served on the committee that plans the dinner every year since day one. She brought her son when he was young and he now brings his young boys.
“It has become a family thing,” she said.
Alicna said they know there are people who can’t have a Thanksgiving meal, either because they are unable to prepare it for themselves or they just can’t just afford to prepare a good Thanksgiving meal. She said there also are several single people who don’t want to prepare a big Thanksgiving spread for one person.
“That’s why we do it,” she said. “When we first started, the goal was to reach those people that wanted the deliveries and then also to have people who would be spending Thanksgiving alone to be able to come together and socialize and have their Thanksgiving meal.
Unfortunately, this year, because of COVID, they were unable to offer a dine-in option.
According to Alicna, this year’s event had 755 scheduled meal deliveries. Of those, 120 were taken to St. Christopher Parish in Radcliff to be dispersed on the northern end of the county.