Vicki Bramlett says she's going to buy a journal to record all the great stories she hears about the Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner - not just from the elderly or those down on their luck - but from all those in the community who come for the turkey and dressing or those who hold fundraisers or donate food, money or their time to prepare and serve more than 3,000 people.
The dinner, organized by East Central University's Human Resources Club, will be served from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday [NOV. 19] at the Pontotoc County Agriplex at the fairgrounds on North Broadway. A children’s room will offer fun and games for younsters.
The homebound can have meals delivered by calling 559-5481 by noon Nov. 16 [FRIDAY]. A delivery address, the number of meals and the name of a contact person can be left on an answering machine. Call A Ride will provide free transportation to those who call 332-7056 by noon Nov. 16 [FRIDAY].
"We've been doing the dinner for 28 or 29 years," said Bramlett, secretary and past president of the Human Resources Club. "There are so many great stories that have been lost over the years. I want to write them down. I would love to go back and read about when it started."
Just this year, she said, the club received a rather unique donation. The ECU Bookstore received a letter from a former student who had stolen merchandise from the store. The student apologized and sent a check to pay for what had been stolen. Since the current company did not manage the store at the time, the money was donated to the club.
"We had one woman call us who has elderly neighbors," Bramlett said. "She asked if we could deliver four meals to one house. We said, 'We sure can.' She plans to have her neighbors come to her house to have Thanksgiving dinner together."
Bramlett said 450 dinners were delivered last year. The homebound often express their gratitude, she said.
Holding fundraisers and donating or preparing the food has become as much a tradition for area organizations and businesses as the dinner itself. Some groups call as early as August to make sure the dinner will be held because they want to volunteer. Many groups furnish the same items each year or provide them at cost.
ECU student groups help bring the prepared food to the Agriplex. Bramlett said it took two trips to pick up 40 pans of dressing last year. Then there are the 50 turkeys and 50 hams, all cooked and sliced, plus all the trimmings, dinnerware, napkins and beverages.
"This dinner just brings the community together," Bramlett said. "Last year we had a group come in who used to be neighbors. They filled a whole table. They set the whole night visiting and getting caught up on old times. The Boy Scouts kept their coffee cups full, and it was the atmosphere we want to create -you can see people you haven' seen in a long time.
"We're hoping to feed more than 3,000 this year. The more who come out and enjoy it, and the more volunteers we have," she added, "the greater a success it is."
The 25 members of the Human Resources Club are aided by "tons of volunteers who come out en masse to help. It's absolutely wonderful," Bramlett said.
"This is my third year (to help organize the dinner)," she said. "I absolutely love it. "It's great to see the community come together under one roof."
Dr. Regina Robertson, one of the club's advisers, said approximately 3,400 meals were served last year. Financial support, desserts and volunteers are still needed, she said. Volunteers can call 559-5705 to help set up the dinner, greet people, serve and clean up during and after the dinner.
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