The location has changed but the mission remains the same: There will be a community feast once again on Thanksgiving Day.
One of the biggest annual undertakings of the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance takes place this Thursday, as it puts on a spread with all the trimmings for anybody who shows up at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall. Based on previous holiday gatherings, the number of guests is usually around 300 people -- along with more than 100 volunteers.
"It brings the people of the community together, both people who are in need, and people who want to volunteer," said Kyle Ermoian, pastor at Celebration Community Church and long-time coordinator of the dinner. "It also provides a service for people who maybe it's not so much they can't afford to have a Thanksgiving Day meal, it's just a big undertaking."
It is a big undertaking, but it means so much to each and every participant. Whether it is financial circumstances, lack of family in the area, inability to travel, or simply the desire to enjoy the companionship of others, the Thanksgiving Day Feast fills a significant need.
The significance exists for volunteers as well. A desire to serve others allows for much food preparation, collection of non-perishables at local grocery stores, the filling of bags of food for the diners to take home, serving the meal, and sitting down for great conversations.
"We want it to be a family-like atmosphere, so we have a couple table hosts at each table, just to engage our guests in conversation," Ermoian said.
The feast is rewarding for all involved, so we're thankful the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance took on the mission after the Corner Garden Restaurant closed its doors. Corner Garden owner Florence Wear founded the tradition some 20 years ago, but stepped back in 2007. The ECMA forged partnerships with the National Guard Armory for a location, Pam's Bakery Shop and Catering for food preparation, and multiple businesses to help pay for the event.
Those alliances remain in place, but since Pam's not only renamed itself but bought the Fanchon Ballroom at 2350 E. Old U.S. Highway 40, the feast is moving there. It will start at noon as usual.
There is always room for more volunteers if you're so inclined. Contact First Call for Help at (785) 623-2800 if interested.
You don't need either a reason or a reservation if you'd like to partake in the Thanksgiving Day Feast. Simply show up at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall at noon Thursday. Be prepared for great food and fellowship.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry