Starting with a humble effort to provide a hot meal for “with our less fortunate friends and neighbors in mind,” members of the Ashland Elks Lodge have already begun cooking and preparing a place for the hundreds of guests expected to share a meal with them on Thanksgiving Day.
“We started with 600 and now we’re up to about 1,600,” said Mark Ison, co-coordinator of the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas meal program at Elks Lodge 350 at 900 Carter Ave, along with Mike Piatt.
Announcing a menu including turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, sweet potatoes for in-house diners, as well as dinner rolls and dessert, Ison said Elks volunteers have already roasted two dozen of their 38 turkeys which weigh in at 22-to-25 pounds each, and will make 30 to 36 pans (about 800 pounds) of their own signature-recipe Elks Lodge dressing for Thursday’s meal.
While volunteers will deliver meals to shut-ins, Ison said, “If you can make it in to eat, we’d rather you do that,” explaining meal deliveries are reserved for those who can’t get out. Volunteers who want to help on Thursday are also reminded they must supervise any children they bring and keep them away from the kitchen area at all times.
“We encourage people to bring kids, but they do need to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t get back in the kitchen where we have so many hot things and things they could get hurt on,” Ison said.
As in the past, the dinner is provided free of charge, although donations will be welcomed. As the number of guests has risen, along with the cost of food and supplies, Ison notes the holiday dinners have become a costly project for supporting members.
Ison emphasized the dinner is for anyone who wants to join in the community event.
“We welcome people who are lonely or just stuck in town,” he added.
The dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, and those needing delivery are asked to call (606) 324-5720 with their name and address between 8 and 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.