Thanksgiving Take Out

Thursday 24 November 2005, 3:28 pm

Today the city held a Thanksgiving dinner for all the community. The dinner was sponsored by Calvary Chapel Relief, Rotary International, and Channel 10 WBIR-TV of Knoxville. In particular, the volunteers were well represented by three different Rotary Clubs of Jonesboro, Arkansas. The dinner was free for all and consisted of everything ... turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberries, and, of course, peCAN pie. (I'm told the pronunciation varies depending on what state you're from, but most of the pie servers were from Arkansas, the peCAN capital.

The purpose of this dinner was not just to serve the community, but to serve them in a special way. First, you must understand that everything around here revolves around waiting in lines. I've heard that it take two hours just to check out of Wal-Mart once you've got in line. Even at the CityTeam food bank, you must wait in line in order to be processed (present ID, etc.)

So the object of this dinner was to seat people at tables in the park, and they would be served by volunteers who would wait in line for them and bring them food. Each table had servers assigned.

The CityTeam group stayed together and staffed the "take out" booth. Mostly other volunteers would deliver meals to the elderly and shut-ins, and we would be putting them together first. I worked "the line" for only a few minutes, and I think I was part of making over 100, perhaps 200 meals during that time.

The leadership expected at least 1000 people to show up, and as many as 7000. I don't know the actual numbers, but I think they served 1000 people in the park, and delivered as many as 500 meals to others offsite.

Due to a family emergency at home, Mary and I will going home to San Jose early, perhaps as early as tomorrow or Saturday. We both feel that it really took until Monday or Tuesday until we began to feel comfortable here, and we also agree that we will come back later when family circumstances allow it, perhaps as early as the first of January. We've heard that by that time the volunteers might be housed in buildings instead of tents, but we might still prefer the tents because of the mold situation in the buildings. If CityTeam has transitioned to doing "mucking" work (tearing out the insides of buildings), we might have to ask for another assignment because neither of us can really do that and stay in good health.

Being here has really caused us to reflect and be more thankful for even the little things we take for granted, like a soft bed, a change of clothes, and a shower. While eating lunch today, Mary and I spoke with a new volunteer from another organization I won't name. He complained a lot about some vandalism that had been done to his car in NYC while working, and he complained about little job annoyances at home. He had just arrived, and he hadn't really seen the full scope of things here. After he's been here a few days, he'll appreciated more that he has a car at all, that he has a job to go to, and that he has a house to go home to at night.