For the 16th year, Mount Airy resident and internationally-known singer Melva Houston is spending Thanksgiving day giving back to the community she loves.
Houston is once again hosting a Community Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday, set to begin at noon at the First Baptist Church on Main Street in Mount Airy.
The event is officially set to run until 4 p.m., but Houston said that cutoff isn’t set in stone.
“We say we’re going to be serving until four, but I’m going to keep handing out plates until the food is gone,” she said with a laugh on Friday.
This year’s dinner will be a traditional Thanksgiving meal, including turkey, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, pies and cakes, Houston said.
“I’m cooking about 10 turkeys and will be bringing all the dressing,” she said.
Last year’s event fed about 400 people, but Houston said she hopes that number increases this year, since the traditional community meal is close to her heart.
And since this is a community event, Houston said she wants to issue a special invitation to any people who have to work Thanksgiving like emergency services personnel, hospital employees, law enforcement and others who aren’t available to spend time with their family or prepare a traditional meal.
“Anyone interested in eating a good meal can come and enjoy,” she said. “I want this to once again be a true community Thanksgiving.
“I’ve served everyone from the man living in the big house to the man living under a bridge,” she said. “That’s what this is all about.”
Houston said she hopes to continue the tradition now that she’s living year-round in Mount Airy.
“This is a community gathering we started 16 years ago, and it’s a tradition we want to continue,” she said. “There are so many people out there who either don’t cook or aren’t able to cook. There are people who’ve lost their loved ones this year and they might not feel like cooking a big meal. This is for them.”
Describing the annual meal as an “outreach to bring the community together,” Houston said she won’t be doing any singing at the event.
“I’m going to be pretty busy just trying to put the birds on the plates,” she said with a laugh.
“I’m going to continue doing this every year from now on until I simply can’t anymore,” she said. “I’m just happy and thankful that I can do it.”
A second meal is being offered this year at the Lions Den in Mount Airy, located at 162A W. Pine St.
The meal is set to get under way at 9:30 a.m.
For more information, call the Rev. Gary Gossett at 710-7075.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.