Tuesday, November 22, 2016

TOP STORY >> Community holiday meal

Leader staff writer

Gravy was flowing and fellowship filled the Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School cafeteria during the first Jacksonville Community Thanksgiving Meal on Sunday.

A joint effort by local churches and businesses had 250 volunteers serve 2,000 meals to those who might not have a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The food was prepared at First Baptist Church and brought over to the Lighthouse Charter School.

Meals could be eaten at the school, carried out or delivered to people who could not get out. Dinner included ham or turkey, potatoes, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, roll, stuffing and pie.

“We had a steady stream of people. Some arrived at 1 p.m. (three hours before the meal was to begin),” Second Baptist Church pastor David O’Dell said.

“It was heartwarming to see the community come together. It was a momentous task. It took days to cook the meals and months of planning. I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen,” Mayor Gary Fletcher said.

Plaura Hunter of Sherwood was told about the dinner by a family member.

“It was nice. Everyone is friendly. They greeted us and made sure we had everything. The food is wonderful,” Hunter said.

Jamia Smith-Hughes, 8, of Sherwood said, “I like it because it was nice for them to do it.”

Her cousin Jacquelynn Kimble, 5, of Sherwood, said, “They are doing it for us. They are the best.”

Volunteer Norma Smith said, “I enjoyed it. I helped prepare the trays. It was the best organized event I’ve seen. The food is good, too. We’ve talked about doing it next year.”

Helping to make the Community Thanksgiving Meal a success were NFL football players Clinton McDonald of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Demetrius Harris of the Kansas City Chief, both of Jacksonville, and the McDonald and Associates Collective Collaboration-Light into Darkness (MACC-LID) Foundation.

Other sponsors include, Jacksonville First Baptist Church, Jacksonville Second Baptist Church, Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, Military Road Baptist Church, Maddox Road Baptist Church, McArthur Assembly of God, Cross Roads Free Will Church, First United Methodist Church, Evangelistic Ministries Church and Way of Salvation Outreach Ministries.

Gwatney Chevrolet, Daniel Gray Homes, James Gowen State Farm Agency, Doug Wilkinson Realty, Families Counseling Services, First Arkansas Bank and Trust, Peebles Brothers Supply, Action Sign and Neon, the Jacksonville Rotary Club and Whit Davis Lumber.