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For the past 11 years, the Williamstown Baptist Church has put the “thanks” in Thanksgiving by delivering nearly 3,000 meals to needy Grant Countians.
Last year, the many volunteers provided 254 meals of turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and dessert.
The numbers reached the highest it has ever been this Thanksgiving with 443 people served during the Hope Thanksgiving Meal.
“It’s definitely gotten easier over time,” said Elizabeth Martin, organizer of the meal. “Six years ago, one person tried to find drivers and take care of the kitchen. Now, we divide it into groups. It’s gotten so big that one person could not have taken on that job.”
“I think it’s really neat because now our children are becoming involved,” she said. “They know the importance of this. My daughter is almost 12 and she knows that’s what we’re going to do on Thanksgiving.”
The annual meal delivery originated with former church members Ed and Karen Meece, who joined Williamstown Baptist in 1993.
The couple eventually moved with their two children, Landon and Edison, to Bardstown and gave their Hope Sunday School class a donation of $500 to be used to glorify God in some way.
From that donation, the Hope Class began the tradition of the Hope Thanksgiving Meal.
“It was a great place to live, great folks,” said Ed Meece, who moved in 2006 with his family to Montana where he helped start the Cornerstone Community Fellowship. “We still have very fond memories and a lot of good friends back there. When we got ready to leave we just felt like God wanted us to leave something behind. It’s really not about us. It’s about the folks who have done such tremendous work in the past 11 years.”
Meece said he speaks to WBC member Jim Simpson during Thanksgiving to catch up and keep in the loop.
The Meece’s 13-year-old daughter, Landon, died last year from bacterial meningitis and the 2008 Hope Meal has been dedicated in her memory.
“It means a lot,” Ed Meece said. “Landon had a lot of good friends while we were in Williamstown. When we moved to Bardstown those were the first folks that came to visit us. Every year when we would get our phone call, she was always excited to know about the meal. It’s a great thing. We appreciate them remembering her and honoring her in that way.”
The church volunteers were hard at work the day before Thanksgiving preparing the meals at Williamstown Schools.
Tiffany Groves was in charge of the kitchen while Elisa Gray and Debra Turner organized the deliveries and desserts, respectively.
Sixty desserts were made by 36 volunteers, along with two pies donated by Cracker Barrel and one from Vanessa’s Bakery.
There were 20 volunteers in the kitchen, five organizing the delivery of boxes and 22 drivers.
“This started where the work was primarily done by the members of the Hope Class,” Martin said. “Now, it’s evolved into more of a church-wide project. We’ve got anywhere from 6-year-old kids helping to a pie donated by a 90-year-old woman. It’s so diverse. Everybody has been very gracious about helping. I think people see the need.”
The church also received donations from Gordon’s Food Service, Wal-Mart, Edmondson’s Grocery, Ameristop, Grant County Oil, Cracker Barrel, Vanessa’s Bakery, E-Z Stop, Grant County News, Williamstown Schools, Save-A-Lot, Williamstown Cable and Edwardo’s Pizza.
A semi-truck making a delivery in town also stopped by the church to donate butter for the meal.
“There’s no way we could do this without community support as well as the church members,” Martin said. “It’s so humbling. A meal that everyone takes for granted for some may not happen.”
In the end, it is providing a need that makes the hard work worthwhile, said Cheryl Rich, who has delivered meals for several years.
“Some of the people are shut-ins and they want you to stay awhile,” Rich said. “We try to do that. One lady lived way out and she lived alone. She was obviously heating with fire wood. She said she hadn’t had a Thanksgiving meal in over 10 years. It just makes you feel so good that you can provide something to someone who hasn’t had something special.”