Hundreds come out to Lima’s community Thanksgiving

LIMA — Volunteers for the annual Lima Community Thanksgiving Dinner expected to serve 2,500 to 2,700 meals Thursday afternoon.

And for the community members benefitting from the meals at Veterans Memorial Civic Center, it was more than appreciated.

“This is my second year coming to the Civic Center for the Thanksgiving meal, and it was wonderful,” Lima resident Elizabeth Tata said. “There were so many kind faces and just a great meal. Nowadays, Thanksgiving meal is very expensive, and it’s so nice that our community has something like this for people that can’t afford it.”

Felicia Laws said that she always brings her mother with her to the event.

“It’s very nice and blessful,” she said. “It was really good, and every year is different, but it’s just a blessing to do that for the community. Some people are not fortunate, so it’s nice to do that.”

Organizer Jonathan Burkey, of Compassionate Ministries of Lima, said the annual event is a blessing for organizers too.

“It’s just wonderful to be able to give people an opportunity to come together and have a quality meal, particularly when so many are lonely on this day,” Burkey said. “Thanksgiving should not be a day that people have to spend alone. That’s really our hope that people just find great fellowship here at the dinner.”

To serve the nearly 800 pounds of turkey, nearly 150 pounds of ham, 800 pounds of mashed potatoes and 2,500 rolls takes a lot of volunteer work from groups, such as the Lima Community Church and the Lima Senior High School boys basketball team.

“Today, we have just over 250 volunteers helping, and yesterday we had about 50 other volunteers putting in prep work before the actual day,” Burkey said. “So we have around 300 volunteers or a little over that in total that make the meal happen.”

Lines stretched around the halls of the Civic Center, but thanks to the hard work, they moved quickly.

“Honestly when you walk through those doors, you feel thankful for all the food that is in there,” Tata said. “They even give you a box to take home and a bag of laundry detergent. It’s really nice.”

Laws added, “It’s just blessed for them to do that, put their hands over the food. It’s really nice that people take their time out to come and do that for the community.”

Burkey said the event is an example of what happens when a community comes together.

“This dinner is a huge operation,” he said. “But on the other hand, it’s simple because everyone agrees to come together and make it happen. And I think that this dinner is an example of the best of Lima and a pinnacle moment in our community of people just coming together to do something wonderful to bless each other.”

And if anyone missed it, Burkey and other visitors had one piece of advice: Come out next year and enjoy it.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.