The ovens at First Baptist Church in Mount Airy have been fired up since Monday in preparation for an annual Thanksgiving community dinner, one that organizers weren’t sure was going to be pulled off.
“Due to the outpouring from the community, we’re on for Thursday,” said Darris Wilkins, of Friends of a Brighter Community, which hosts the dinner.
For 19 years the group of churches and individuals have joined forces to provide the holiday meal for the less fortunate, serving from about 260 to 400 each year.
But donations had dwindled heading into the 20th-annual dinner.
In an article published in the Nov. 13 edition of The News, Wilkins said the group had so far only obtained 10 out of the 30 turkeys typically prepared for such a large group.
“After the article ran I had a lot of phone calls,” she said.
“So many people have called and told me they wanted to help,” with donations of turkeys, funds and with items for a canned food drive, and “a lot of people said they wanted to come volunteer. I’m really happy with the outpouring from the community.”
The rush of contributions ensured the dinner will be held as planned, Wilkins said.
“We have already started cooking,” she said. “In fact, we had so many turkeys we started cooking early.”
The organizer named several reasons why folks may have hesitated to chip in this year.
“The economy is not what it was a few years ago, and a lot of companies are requiring a tax ID number,” she said.
While organizers may have limited control over the economy, the more bureaucratic obstacle of the tax ID is one they may not have to face in the future.
“We’re trying to rectify that this next year,” said Wilkins, who has been involved with the dinner since its inception in 1997.
The surge in donations affirmed that the original spirit behind the formation of Friends for a Brighter Community lives on.
“It was basically a group of individuals that came together from different walks of life, reaching out to make the community unified,” she said. “I’m thankful that so many different people from all walks of life came out to help with this together because they felt like it was important to continue it.”
Dinner will be served on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, from noon to 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on 714 North Main St., with parking at the Arch Street entrance at the rear of the building.
For more information, please call 336-341-0368.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.