By Jim Misunas
LARNED — When Loretta Moss confirmed that the Pawnee County Ministerial Association wasn’t able to assist with the 2011 Thanksgiving Dinner, she felt compelled to act.
“I just couldn’t let that happen. It’s important for the community to have the Thanksgiving Dinner,” she said. “The Thanksgiving Dinner is a terrific opportunity to help others and create fellowship in the community. I have attended to help others in our community. You get a chance to see people you don’t see all year.”
Moss solicited initial help from her church, the Assembly of God Church, and has gotten assistance from Sacred Heart Church, which will be the site of the dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Moss said volunteers from various churches have prepared different items to the local Thanksgiving gathering the past few years.
“My understanding was that no one wanted to take the responsibility to do that, this year,” she said.
She thought of Jason Toll, director for the Pawnee County Food Pantry and Helping Hands Ministry, as someone who could help on short notice.
“The Food Pantry gives out food to people and I thought Jason could help,” she said. “They have the resources to help with something like this.”
The Food Pantry receives donations through food drives, from the Wichita Food Bank, local purchases and special donations from businesses such as Pizza Hut and Dillons.
The Pawnee County Ministerial Association oversees the Food Pantry. The food pantry’s board had already agreed to provide local families with Thanksgiving food before Moss’ request to help.
“The Ministerial Association has put together the Thanksgiving Dinner the past few years, but this is the first time for the Food Pantry to be directly involved,” Toll said. “The Food Pantry had plans to put Thanksgiving meals together, but everyone would have to do their own cooking.”
Toll said the Pawnee County Ministerial Association wasn’t able to get enough local churches to participate.
“It is a huge project to get everything organized. They were not able to get enough interest from the churches. It was going to die from lack of interest,” Toll said. “I commend Loretta for getting involved.”
Moss said she is planning for more than 200 people to be fed. The Food Pantry has committed 15 turkeys and all the extras.
“There’s still a lot to work to do because we’ve got to rally together cooks and servers on short notice,” Toll said. “The Thanksgiving Dinner is going to happen because of Loretta’s ambition and hard work.”
Toll agreed to provide most of the food and finances for the Thanksgiving Dinner.
Moss still wasn’t sure where the Thanksgiving Dinner would be. But Pastor Warren Stecklein stepped up to provide Sacred Heart Church, 1111 State Street, as the site.
Jill Hutchins from Assembly of God Church has volunteered to help. People can call (620) 285-3077 to provide names of shut-ins who would like a Thanksgiving dinner; volunteers who would like to help with preparation or work at the dinner; and names of people who would like to provide a pie or dessert for Thanksgiving.
“Like everything else, you can’t do it by yourself,” Moss said. “But we are starting to line up some help. We still need some volunteers to help.”
WHAT: Larned Thanksgiving Dinner
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thanksgiving, Nov. 24
WHERE: Sacred Heart Church, 1111 State Street
SHUT-INS: Call (620) 285-3077 for Thanksgiving delivery.
VOLUNTEERS: Call (620) 285-3077 to help with cooking, set-up, serving, to donate a pie or Thanksgiving delivery
By Jim Misunas