Community meals fewer, but groups helping

Community Thanksgiving meals will not be as plentiful as in years past due to the pandemic, but some organizations will continue to feed those in need.

Since more families and community members may be in need this holiday season, local churches and organizations are looking to offer what they can in the form of a Thanksgiving meal.

Tahlequah Elks Lodge No. 2601 Exalted Ruler Andrea Chaffin said the organization chose to step up and host a Thanksgiving dinner.

“We did one two years ago for veterans at the old building. I saw a few people online, asking if anyone was doing a meal, and didn't see any responses in the affirmative, so we decided there was a need to be filled,” said Chaffin. “I know COVID has a lot of people cautious, but we still have an obligation to help others.”

The free dinner will be served Sunday, Nov. 22, beginning at 2 p.m. at the new Elks Lodge, 109 W. Willis Road. Indoor dining and drive-thru pick-up options will be available. Chaffin said there is no need to register. With enough volunteers secured, donations for the event have been coming in, but Chaffin said on Friday afternoon that they still need desserts. She and her husband, Chris, have personally contributed to the meal.

“Someone is donating four smoked turkeys, and Steve Worth with Edward Jones sent a monetary donation to help with the food cost. Shane and Mary Ross went to Tulsa to shop for us this week. They will also be donating food, as well, and helping to serve it,” said Chaffin. “We are appreciative of everyone who volunteers or is donating to help make this possible. Our town is the best place to live.”

Servers at the Elks will be wearing masks and gloves, and masks will be available if someone doesn't have one, Chaffin said. All tables will be socially distanced.

On Monday, Nov. 23, beginning at 7 p.m., 29 Eleven Church, 3229 S. Muskogee Ave., will be giving away 150 frozen turkeys and sides. Only one turkey per household is offered, and they will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Chain Of Love Organization is working on its ninth annual Thanksgiving and Christmas drives. What started as a private Facebook group, www.facebook.com/groups/thechainoflove, has officially been turned into a not-for-profit organization. While the group seeks donations for food baskets and presents, they turn around and give those away to people in need who contact the administrators.

According to Bambi Dodson Rush, one of the group’s administrators, The Chain of Love usually has already given out some food baskets for Thanksgiving dinner.

“This is we have none to give out. If anybody can help, please let me know. We can take donations in different ways: you can buy the food and I will meet you; if you don't want to go to the store, you can give a gift card and we will shop; order it at one of the stores and maybe we can arrange pick up at the store,” said Rush. “We will work with you however you want to do it. I just don't want to have anyone without a nice dinner. Thank you and God bless.”

For the food baskets, organizers are collecting turkeys, hams, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, canned or frozen vegetables, yams, desserts, and rolls.

Feed My Sheep will offer a take-away Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 26, 1-2 p.m. at the United Methodist Church activities building. The menu will feature roast turkey, sweet potatoes, dressing, gravy, cranberries, sweet peas, a dinner roll and butter, pumpkin pie, and a bottle of water. Meals will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Since the UMC facility is not available as usual during this time, Jay Jones said the Tahlequah Area Coalition for the Homeless would not be hosting a meal there.

“For the past four or five years, TACH has done the Thanksgiving dinner in that facility, but it is not open at this time, so we are unable to do Thanksgiving dinner there,” he said.

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