By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Many people run out to the grocery store just a day or two before Thanksgiving to pick up ingredients for a big family dinner, but those involved with the Gospel Highlight Radio Broadcast Community Thanksgiving Day dinner are already getting prepped.
Then again, they do serve meals to 1,000 people or more on Thanksgiving Day at no cost.
On Sunday afternoon, the Anderson Zion Baptist Church, 2008 Rev. J.T. Menifee St., hosted its inaugural Community Ushers Salad Luncheon to start raising funds for the 31st annual dinner.
Fundraiser co-chair Mae Rayford said a variety of salads were donated and served, along with two pieces of chicken, buffet style for $5 (drinks were an extra 50 cents and desserts a dollar) with all proceeds going to the Thanksgiving Day dinner.
“Our goal was $500,” she said. “We reached our goal plus.”
How much more she wasn’t sure. But Rayford added they saw at least 400 people Sunday.
With a long line in view around 1 p.m. and about 50 volunteers, she said, their first year for the luncheon went better than expected.
Pat Love came to the meal with a friend because it was for the Thanksgiving Day dinner “and we wanted to help.”
“It’s (the Thanksgiving Day dinner) a remarkable event that helps a lot of underprivileged families,” she said, “and it’d be a shame to see it fall to the wayside because of a lack of funds.”
She noted that the luncheon was good idea with great service and food -- “I made sure to get a spoonful of everything.”
Gospel Highlight Radio Broadcast Community Thanksgiving Day dinner co-founder and chair James Warner was thankful for Zion’s help.
Volunteers from area churches and businesses work together to deliver meals and serve them at the Geater Center on Thanksgiving Day, and Warner does a seven-hour gospel broadcast on WHBU 1240 AM.
The fact that so many are now involved “makes it even better,” he said.
Last year, volunteers served about 1,200 meals.
Next Sunday, at about 4 p.m., Warner will be at Anderson Speedway with Speedway President Rick Dawson for some of The Pitt’s barbecue and music, collecting donations for the dinner. The event is open to the public. Zion will also be hosting the Songfest the first Saturday in October to raise funds for the event.
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At a glance The 31st Annual Gospel Highlight Radio Broadcast Community Thanksgiving Day dinner What: Free Thanksgiving meals for those in need When: Thanksgiving Day Where: The Geater Center, 1611 Chase St. Deliveries also available.