BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - For 35 years, the Community Thanksgiving Dinner in Bay St. Louis has fed bodies, but it has also fed souls. And, especially with the two-fisted punch from COVID-19 and Hurricane Zeta, people needed a lot more than just a turkey dinner.
This year, Brinson Smith is in charge. His grandmother, Sally Kelly, started it, but she couldn’t be here this year.
“I know she’s not happy about it,” said Smith. “She was in Illinois visiting family and just couldn’t make the trip back in time for the event. But she’s definitely been on the phone trying to give us advice on how to do everything.”
But the machine is in place, and so is the heart. Michelle Fleming has volunteered for five years.
“I just love to be able to help someone out,” said Fleming. “And to see their smiles on their faces. Sometimes, people don’t have anyone at home and so, they’re alone. And this is a good way for them to be around people.”
But, unfortunately, It’s been a terrible year for Bonnie Page.
“This year, I lost my son, my last son,” said Page. “I had five.”
But, despite everything she tries to be thankful.
“I’m thankful for my blessings,” said Page. “But I can’t help but miss my loved ones.”
And this dinner, Page said, does help.
“Oh, it means a lot getting out with the people, you know?” said Page.
Vivian Piergalski agreed.
“It is wonderful,” said Piergalski. “Because there are people out there who don’t have homes, or don’t have loved ones they can go to. And this is the only thing they can come to. So, I am so happy that they did this.”
For the first time, the event offered curbside delivery and sit-down dinners were outside as part of COVID-19 protocols.
“I think it’s been a very difficult year for everybody during 2020 with COVID-19,” said Paula Vega Vondestein. “It’s just very important to stop, and pause and reflect on what we have to be grateful for and to have our hearts filled with gratitude.”