Preparing for feast of 1,700

By Rebecca Powers – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - On Wednesday, preparations for the Harrison County Sheriff's Department's tradition of feeding the needy went into full swing. Can you imagine preparing hot, delicious Thanksgiving feasts for 1,700 people? That's what they have done on this day every year for the last two decades.

Harrison County Corrections Officer Dan Williams Jr. was cooking all day long. On this Thanksgiving Eve, his walk-in cooler is almost full with enough food to feed 1,700 people a Thanksgiving Feast.

Williams says,"On the dressing, about 25 to 30 pans, on the turkeys around 20 to 25 turkeys."

The trustees he supervises at the work center fried all the big birds. Now, he will lovingly carve each one with the people they will feed in his heart.

"It make me feel real good 'cause I suppose to be on vacation, and I canceled my vacation just to do this special event for tomorrow," Williams said. "So I look forward to doing it."

Thanksgiving morning, they'll put all this food on an assembly line. Dianne Shoemake says it runs like a well oiled machine.

Dianne Shoemake of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department says, "That's gonna be our serving lines. We'll form two serving lines, and we'll come through there. We'll serve it on to go plates. We'll come through here, where they'll be boxed, go out the door and continue around until we get all those meals fixed."

There are hundreds of volunteers who show up almost every year, to help pack the meals and deliver them to families who would normally go without. They say everyone is invited to share in the joyous experience of giving.

"We've asked if they want to just help come and package and serve the meals get here at 9:00. If they're interested in just delivering, be here at 10:30. If they want to do both, they are welcomed to come and do both, I expect a lot of volunteers. I've had a lot of good calls, and a good response. I'm really looking forward to this tomorrow. It's gonna be good!"

The site has changed this year. They will be doing the assembly line at the Harrison County Work Center in Gulfport off of Lorraine Road.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.