TEXARKANA, Texas - Frosty winds and COVID-19 precautions didn't stop about 200 local residents from enjoying a Thanksgiving turkey feast offered by the Randy Sams Outreach Shelter Thursday.
About 40 shelter residents and an additional 160 community area, low-income residents dropped by for some holiday cuisine - something they could either take home or eat while settling down outdoors.
"We're holding it outside this year because of COVID,"said Jennifer Lacefield, the shelter's executive director.
To prepare for this year's Thanksgiving feeding project, Lori Petit, the shelter's kitchen manager, said she started working three weeks ago to cook 35 turkeys, 25 hams and 250 pounds of mashed potatoes, as well as various other quantities of sweet potatoes, corn, green beans and rolls.
"Most of this food is donated and we also get a lot of money donations from the community," Petit said. "We are very thankful for the community support we get each year, for this occasion - both in food and finance."
The Rev. Richard R. Daly, parochial vicar for Saint James Episcopal Church, said his job as a police officer for years in Chicago actually helped prepare him for the ministry as well as for helping shelter residents.
"During my time as a police officer, I came in contact with many people who were suffering from drug addiction and alcohol addiction -and in need of hope and faith," Daly said. "This is the kind of experience that prepares you and frees you to live for Christ."
Besides offering holiday cheer to low-income residents, this year's Thanksgiving feast not only included meal tables, but also tables laden with free winter clothing available to all those needing it.
"This year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to address multiple needs with beneficiary items all at the same time," Lacefield said.
Along with shelter staff, Lacefield said the event also drew about 30 to 35 community volunteers to work the food serving lines as well as clothing display tables.
One of those clothing table volunteers included Mary Wormington, Habitat for Humanity executive director.
"It's always a blessing to have nonprofits coming together for the community," she said.