Charity LINKs Thanksgiving dinner and those in need

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

It's time to "make hay" at Lawrence's longest-running charitable kitchen.

The 20-year-old Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen (LINK) -- housed in the basement of First Christian Church, 221 W. 10th St. -- is seeking donations and volunteers for Thanksgiving and beyond.

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Richard Gwin/Journal-World File Photo

Arvid Grover, left, receives his meal from Aime Pennel and Kathy Davis at the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen's annual free Thanksgiving dinner. Grover sang a round of "God Bless America" to the volunteers before going through the serving line last year at First Christian Church, 221 W. 10th St.

LINK president Diane Yeamans said that during the past five years the kitchen had experienced a 35 percent increase in demand for meals while the average donation size had decreased by 30 percent.

"This is the time of year when people normally give," Yeamans said. "There's a time when you're on one side of the serving line and a time when you're on the other side. As you progress through life, you become thankful for both."

Last Thanksgiving, LINK served 32 turkeys and endless side dishes to more than 450 people. Half of those people came to the kitchen, while those who couldn't make it had meals delivered to their houses.

According to LINK secretary Cindi Hickey, the kitchen has three specific needs for volunteers this Thanksgiving:

¢ Drivers to help deliver Thanksgiving dinners to homebound guests

¢ Donations to help cover the costs of the turkeys

Past Event

Free Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Thursday, November 25, 2004, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • (One-off place), Lawrence
  • All ages / Free

More

¢ Volunteers to help prepare and serve

"We're in kind of in a tight situation right now, but I think a lot of charities are," Hickey said. "The community is extremely supportive of us, and anytime we make it known that we have a need we've always had people that have supported us."

Meals at the kitchen are funded and prepared by more than 40 volunteer groups (mostly local churches) that oversee one meal a month or more.

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Volunteers from left, Eric Ackers, Sarah Harper, William Miller and Kim Collie clean meat off turkeys cooked at St. John the Evangelist Church in preparation for last year's Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen Thanksgiving dinner.

Marg Hadl of Trinity Lutheran Church has been volunteering at the kitchen for nearly 20 years. She said organizing and serving the meals gave her a chance to say thanks for the things she had.

"We want everybody to feel comfortable and at home," said Hadl, as she offered diners a selection of white or wheat bread to accompany their other options -- Mexican casserole, ham, fried chicken, cashew chicken and a selection of fruits and desserts -- at a recent meal.

Thanksgiving dinner is the most work-intensive of the 200-plus meals the kitchen serves each year. All meals are free and open to the public.

"You'd be surprised how many college students we have come as guests," Yeamans said. "And they're welcome."