Thanksgiving 1

Shirley Mease checks on a batch of hot rolls. Mease and her family volunteer each year to prepare Thanksgiving meals at Reeds Spring Intermediate School for the community.

A free community-wide Thanksgiving dinner will be held at Reeds Spring Intermediate School for its 11th annual celebration on Nov. 28 at 12 p.m.

“We’ve been very blessed with people in the community that want to donate and help do it every year,” said Shirley Mease, retired kitchen director at Reeds Spring School District. “It’s grown. The first year, we only served 11 people. Last year, we served approximately 400, maybe 425.”

Several years ago, Mease’s husband passed away, and his birthday was around Thanksgiving. A few years after his passing, Mease’s daughter Kristal Porter asked if they could do something different that year, since they spent so much money doing Thanksgiving for their immediate family. They ended up deciding on preparing a community Thanksgiving dinner.

“It’s a full, homemade Thanksgiving dinner, and we welcome everybody to come,” said Mease. 

“By working in the school system, I realized there was a lot of families that just couldn’t afford a large Thanksgiving meal. We also live in a community where we have a lot of retired citizens, so sometimes their families aren’t close by, so we have a group of people that come every year. There’s no qualifications, it’s not because you might need something, it’s just whoever wants to come fellowship with us and have a good meal.”

The family will also provide deliveries for those who do not have transportation to attend the event. To sign up for a delivered meal, call Shirley Mease at 417-337-3414 before Nov. 27.

“Anybody can call for delivery. Mostly the people who can’t get out, unable to get out or in an area where they don’t have transportation, but it is available for everybody,” said Mease.

However, more than community fellowship comes from this annual event.

“We’ve also been blessed we’re able to give away sacks of groceries because the community is so giving that after the initial cost of the meal we usually always have money left over, so Kristal and I go to Aldi’s and Sam’s and get baskets of food,” said Mease. “Last year, we got to give out 25 sacks of food, plus I have several in the community that do hygiene products. We set up a little store last year at the school in a part of the gym, and they could walk through and pick out whatever they needed or whatever they wanted. There’s no qualifications. It’s toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, all that kind of stuff that you do without if you’re on a very strict budget.”

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