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Free dinner spreads joy on Thanksgiving

Free dinner spreads joy on Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2018 by Danisha Hogue in Local News

Community members gathered at the California Nutrition Center Thanksgiving afternoon, Nov. 22, 2018, for a free traditional holiday meal.

Photo by Danisha Hogue /News Tribune.

More than a dozen volunteers run the show at the California Nutrition Center during the annual community Thanksgiving dinner.

Their leader, Teressa Liebi, prepares food donated by the California Ministerial Alliance starting a week ahead and is up early the day of to complete each dish.

"Teressa works so hard; we're here to help her," volunteer Shelly Ash said. "She's the one who runs it all."

Ash along with her husband and two sons are a few faithful volunteers who help serve, deliver meals and clean up each year.

For the last four years, Wayne and Wanda DeMint show up with their son, Charles, to run deliveries.

"It seems to cheer the people up," Wanda said.

This year, the family took 44 meals to the Moniteau County Jail for inmates and workers. Meals were also delivered to individual homes and on duty police officers.

"Our detainees really appreciate it and it's a good service the nutrition center offers," worker Courtney Nokes said.

For the DeMint family, it's a lot of hassle to cook a full meal for their small family. With other relatives out of town, they like to volunteer to make deliveries to others who may not attend a gathering that day.

"I know what it's like to have a parent you can't get to during the holidays," Wanda said. "I would appreciate it so much if my parents, if they were living had someone who would do this for them."

Some people come by the nutrition center because they are unable to put in the work for a large meal or they don't have anyone to share it with. Della Huff came for the first time, because her family wouldn't be able to visit this year.

"I've never been here; but I'm glad they have it," Huff said.

The free meal, sponsored by the ministerial alliance, collected a free-will donation for their benevolence fund.

"It's just a good all-around community effort to help with the emergency fund," pastor Frank Hensley said.

Donations will help those in need throughout the year.

"It's just a real reflection of how committed our community is to provide this every year and it's such a pleasure for the pastors to organize."