Organizers are taking reservations for the free Community Thanksgiving Feast until Saturday, Nov. 14.


"Meals cannot be guaranteed for people who do not pre-register," said the Rev. Celeste Lasich, head of the organizing committee.


The feast will be a drive-through, food pick-up event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, at Gella’s Diner, 117 E. 11th St.


In addition, First Call for Help will be delivering meals that day to its Meals on Wheels clients, the elderly, homebound, disabled, and quarantined individuals through contactless delivery. To sign-up for the free delivery service, individuals who meet one of those criteria may call First Call for Help at (785) 623-2800.


All others must pre-register at https://signup.com/go/NXaeNyy, specifying the number of meals they will need. The website will ask them to select a pickup time.


Also, bags of groceries will be distributed free of charge from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at the Community Assistance Center, 208 E. 12th St.


Lasich said that, as in the past, there are no income requirements for an individual wanting a sack of groceries. The sacks will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis as long as supplies last.


The Ellis County Ministerial Alliance (ECMA), which has organized the feast for the past 12 years, is once again the sponsor. Those wishing to volunteer may call (785) 623-2800.


Monetary donations to help cover the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving feast may be mailed to ECMA, P.O. Box 173, Hays, KS 67601, with a note in the memo line to benefit ECMA’s 2nd Mile Fund.


Operation Christmas Child events coming up


Messiah Lutheran Church, 2000 Main, is having a shoe box packing party for Operation Christmas Child at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. The following day, the annual shoe box collection week begins.


Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization headquartered in Boone, N.C. Each year thousands of individuals pack shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and hygiene items that are sent to needy children around the world to demonstrate God’s love for them in a tangible way.


Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 178 million gift-filled shoe boxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories. For many children, this is the first gift they have ever received.


National Collection Week is Nov. 16-23. Rachel Albin of Hays, Northwest Kansas area director, said that because of the pandemic, shoe box collection would be handled a bit differently this year. Donors will be greeted at curbside drop-offs by volunteers wearing personal protection equipment, she said.


In 2019, a total of 8,715 shoe boxes were collected in Northwest Kansas. The goal in 2020 is 9,500 shoe boxes, Albin said.


Hays has two collection sites. They are Messiah Lutheran Church, 2000 Main St. Collections times there are:


Monday, Nov. 16: 4 to 6 p.m.


Tuesday, Nov. 17, through Thursday, Nov. 19: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Friday, Nov. 20: 4 to 6 p.m.


Saturday, Nov. 21: 1 to 3 p.m.


Sunday, Nov. 22: Noon to 2 p.m.


Monday, Nov. 23: 9 to 11 a.m.


The second collection site in Hays is CrossPoint Church, 1300 Harvest Road. Drop-off times there are:


Monday, Nov. 16: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Tuesday, Nov. 17: 3 to 5 p.m.


Wednesday, Nov. 18: 4 to 6 p.m.


Thursday, Nov. 19: 3 to 5 p.m.


Friday, Nov. 20: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Saturday, Nov. 21: 4 to 6 p.m.


Sunday, Nov. 22: 4 to 6 p.m.


Monday, Nov. 23: 9 to 11 a.m.


Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/buildonline/ to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoe box by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.


More information about the packing party is available by calling Stacey Stults at (785) 650-3293.


Men’s Quartet to perform at North Oak


An evening of Southern Gospel-style music will be presented by the Men’s Quartet at North Oak Community Church, 3000 Oak St., at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22.


"We’re old-fashioned hymn singers," said Darrell Blosser, who sings bass in the quartet. Other members are Dave Barber, baritone; Bryan Noone, tenor; and James Mulkey, lead. Rich Matzke is the accompanist.


The public is invited. Social distancing will be observed.


‘Blue Christmas’ service scheduled


St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and Trinity Lutheran Church are teaming up to provide a "Blue Christmas" service at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, at St. Michael’s, 2900 Canal Blvd.


"For some, the holiday season brings feelings of sadness, disappointment, loneliness or loss," said the Rev. Shay Craig, vicar at St. Michael’s. "This simple service acknowledges those feelings and provides a space of quiet holiness, a vocabulary of prayer and song, and a reminder that we are not alone," she added. "All are welcome."


Craig may be reached at rev.shay.craig@gmail.com. The Rev. Brenda Roger, pastor at Trinity Lutheran, may be reached at tlcpr@eaglecome.net.


Public toy-making event cancelled at FHSU


The Teaming Up for Tots toy-making event at Fort Hays State University has been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Allied Technology has announced.


The 31st Annual Fred P. Ruda event, which has always encouraged public participation, had been scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5. Instead departmental faculty and students will make this year’s wooden toy, which will go to children in need in the community, the department announced in a news release.