Local Charities Preparing to Serve Southwest Missourians on Thanksgiving
Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie—all are being collected by the local nonprofit Jesus Was Homeless, a charity based out of the Branson-Hollister area that serves weekly meals to those less fortunate. The group plans to serve a massive Thanksgiving Day dinner to those who stay in weekly and extended stay motels, the homeless, or anyone who might be alone for the holiday. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has details.
This is the fifth Thanksgiving Day meal put on by Jesus Was Homeless. The first, according to co-founder Bryan Stallings, served about 50 people and brought in around 20 volunteers. This year, Stallings says they’re expecting close to 800 guests and over 200 volunteers.
“We provide transportation. A lot of the folks that live in the weekly and extended stay motels don’t have transportation, that’s a lot of reason why they live there because they’re close to their jobs here in Branson. We’re going to serve them a candle-lit turkey dinner. Our servers will actually have tuxedo shirts on. We’ll have volunteers that will sit with people, in case they’re there by themselves, they can sit and have conversation and really build relationships.”
Stallings says there are no homeless shelters in Branson, so some of the people they serve on a weekly basis are coming straight off of the streets. Stallings says they expect around 1,000 people to come and eat at their Thanksgiving dinner next week.
Stallings says this week is prep week. Many local Branson restaurants are pitching in to help.
“Famous Dave’s Barbeque is providing all of the turkey, smoked turkey. We have McFarland’s Restaurant that’s providing some of the side items. What we’re lacking right now is shaving cream, razors and toothbrushes.”
Those items are needed for the organization’s thrift store, which will be open that day and offering free coats, hats, gloves, socks and toiletry items to dinner attendees.
The dinner will be held at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church Parish Center in Branson. Doors open at 5:30 p.m; the dinner will be from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Visit www.jesuswashomeless.org for more information.
For those in Springfield with nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, Victory Mission has three different opportunities for people to receive a holiday meal. Next Wednesday, the eve of Thanksgiving, the group will host its annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet. Emily Yeap, spokeswoman for the organization, says they tend to have over 300 guests attend. On Thanksgiving Day, the mission will serve a buffet brunch, and in the evening, host a Thanksgiving Day Celebration Service and Dinner. Yeap says a few hundred people attend those meals.
Yeap says they get a variety of guests; some are currently staying at the mission, others come from different shelters in the area, and some come in straight off the streets.
“The Mission is taking care of all these meals except for the Thanksgiving Day dinner, which is sponsored by Second Baptist Church. A lot of the food is definitely donated, especially the turkeys. For example, last Sunday we had two churches who had turkey drives for us, and we collected about 140 turkeys.”
The mission will also host a Thanksgiving-themed meal at their monthly senior citizen luncheon. That event is this Thursday.
For more information about other Thanksgiving Day events, visit KSMU's Community Calendar.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.