Everything you need to know about Rogersville's free Thanksgiving dinner

Jeff Bobo • Updated Nov 13, 2017 at 11:42 AM

ROGERSVILLE — In less than two weeks, families across the country will gather to express thanks over some hot turkey and/or ham and all the trimmings.

But it can be an especially lonely time for those who don’t have the means and/or company to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

That’s why Rogersville civic leaders Dr. Blaine Jones and Mark DeWitte launched the first People Loving People free Thanksgiving dinner.

As the big day approaches, Jones said he wants to make sure everyone knows how to participate, either as a recipient, volunteer, or contributor.

How can I receive a free Thanksgiving dinner?

The meal is being cooked at Joseph Rogers Primary School in Rogersville and will be served in the school cafeteria on Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Volunteers will be on hand to serve guests a traditional meal as well as plenty of Christian fellowship.

Those who can’t attend can call and order a meal for each household member. Deliveries will be made throughout Hawkins County and into adjacent counties, with the radius of deliveries contingent on the number of drivers who volunteer.

Anyone who needs a ride to attend the meal at JRP or needs a meal to be delivered should call (423) 500-1024.

How many volunteers are needed, and what can I do to help?

Volunteers are needed for the following:

Wednesday, Nov. 22

* Work on desserts, cranberries and decorating the JRP cafeteria from 2-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22nd (as many as possible)

Thanksgiving Day

* Stuffing crew from 1-6 a.m. (4-6 people)

* Cooking team No. 1 from 1-8 a.m. for slicing, gravy, etc. (10-12 people)

* Cooking team No. 2 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (10-12 people)

* Food packing crew beginning at 7 a.m. (24-30 people)

* Box making crew from 6:30-11 a.m. (10-12 people)

* Drivers to deliver meals and bring guests to the dinner, beginning at 9:30 a.m. (as many as possible)

* Cafeteria servers from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (unlimited need, and you can be both a server and a recipient)

* Cleanup crew from 1- 4:30pm (as many as possible)

For more information on how to volunteer, call Cary Lewis Barton at (423) 345-3743.

How can I contribute food and/or funds?

“Over 3,200 meals were served last year, and preparations for at least that many are being considered again this year,” Jones said. “Funding will always be an issue as our meal counts grow and the price of food continues to rise. We have continually seen the cost of the meal rise over the last 8-10 years, but God has continued to provide a means to get it paid for.”

Another area of need is in the preparation of desserts and breads.

“We need all the cakes, pies and cupcakes we can get,” said Jones. “Every meal is served with a dessert, and cupcakes are the easiest for us to box up and serve, along with pies and cakes. Homemade dressing is another staple included with the meal. We need day-old corn bread and biscuits, as well as white bread, to crumble up and use in our dressing mixture. Desserts and breads have been in somewhat of a short supply the last few years and are greatly needed this year.”

Anyone wanting to make breads and desserts can drop them off at JRP starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22. 

Donations to help cover the cost of the meal can be made by sending a check to the People Loving People Thanksgiving Dinner, P.O. Box 35, Rogersville, TN 37857.

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