Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Nov. 16 print edition of The Times-Sentinel. These stories appear first in our print editions. To get all our local news, subscribe for home delivery. Call 316-540-0500.
By Paul Rhodes
GODDARD – It’s no secret that the annual Goddard Community Thanksgiving dinner is a big draw. Each year, several hundred people turn out for the free community feast.
But this year, a record number of hungry community members turned out for the dinner, which was held over lunch time at Goddard United Methodist Church. By the time the last bits of turkey, side dishes and desserts were cleared away, 550 meals had been served up at the church and in take-out containers.
“It was a wonderful, overwhelming crowd, and we didn’t run out of food,” said Dan Funke, a volunteer with the Goddard Activities Committee and local Lions Club who helped organize the feast. Funke has been involved with the Goddard Community Thanksgiving Dinner since its inception nearly 30 years ago.
Funke noted that the free community feast was originally started by former Goddard Police Chief Doyle Dyer, who simply wanted to provide an early Thanksgiving dinner for local senior citizens. From that humble start, the dinner became an annual event that grew into a community celebration – and outgrew the local Community Building downtown.
Several years ago, the feast was moved to the fellowship hall at Goddard UMC, and over time, several local groups and individual volunteers have gotten involved. Major sponsors are the Goddard Activities Committee and the Goddard Lions Club, and extra help with serving and cleanup comes from Goddard and Eisenhower Middle School students and members of local Boy Scout Troop 776.
This year’s number of meals served was up by around 100, and Funke said he had anticipated a large crowd because the weather was predicted to be nice. The menu consisted of 14 hams, 14 turkey breasts, four whole turkeys, 125 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of sweet potatoes, 40 pounds of corn, 10 gallons of green beans, 45 pies and a giant sheet cake.
The annual Thanksgiving dinner always heralds the start of holiday giving efforts in the Goddard community. At the feast, a donation jar was used to collect money for Operation Mitten Tree, and $1,045 was collected.
The next night at the Goddard-Eisenhower football game, a “Minute to Win It” collection drive garnered another $1,142, and local school district police officer Jerry Quick added another $1,000 in matching funds to bring that total to $2,142.
Operation Mitten Tree provides food and gifts for needy families through the holidays. Thanksgiving food distribution will be this Saturday, and the Mitten Trees also will go up Saturday at Pizza Hut and Goddard Public Library. From the Mitten Trees, families can select someone to help with Christmas gifts.
Gifts and another round of food distribution will be done right before Christmas.