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Annual free Thanksgiving dinner in Rogersville needs volunteers, donations

Jeff Bobo • Nov 1, 2019 at 3:15 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Planning has begun for the 16th annual People Loving People Thanksgiving Dinner, and as usual organizers are calling for volunteers and donations.

The dinner has grown from a few hundred meals served in 2004 to more than 3,500 in recent years, with each event breaking the record of the last.

Event chairman Dr. Blaine Jones said expectations are the same for 2019.

People Loving People is a nonprofit entity founded in Rogersville by Jones, a retired physician, and Mark DeWitte.

Every year PLP gathers donations and volunteers to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, dressing and gravy, green beans, corn, rolls, cranberry sauce and a dessert.

The dinner will be prepared and served at Joseph Rogers Primary School, 2001 E. Main St., Rogersville, on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, under the direction of Head Chef Russ Williamson.

As usual, teams of volunteers will handle the cooking with the assistance of the Sullivan Baptist Disaster Relief Kitchen, which is supervised by Jim Ramey.

Preparation begins on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, and cleanup ends the following Friday.

The dinner relies solely on contributions from individuals, families, businesses, companies and any other sources to fund the event.

“We have consistently fed more people over the years, and we anticipate feeding as many, if not more, this year,” Jones said. “A big concern again this year is how the cost of food has continued to increase. We need anyone and everyone to step forward and make a contribution to help us prepare for our 2019 dinner as soon as possible.”

Volunteers are needed to work in all areas of the event, and anyone wishing to help can call (423) 921-2726 for more information or come to the first organizational meeting, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital cafeteria.

A second meeting is tentatively planned for Thursday, Nov. 14, and a third, if needed, on Thursday, Nov. 21.

“We specifically need volunteers at the end of the day to help us clean the kitchen and cafeteria area,” Jones said. “We would greatly welcome a church or civic group stepping up and taking this chore over for us. We will need a lot of folks to help deliver the meals, serve in the dining hall and numerous other jobs. We will put you to work and, trust me, you will be blessed. Last year, we utilized well over 450 people in various jobs, and we will need them again, if not more, this year.”

Anyone interested in attending the meal, receiving a delivered meal, or arranging transportation to the meal, can call (423) 921-2726 and leave a detailed message for organizers to follow up on.

Plans are to distribute fliers throughout all Hawkins County schools so children and families can sign up through school.

Donations may be sent to Four Square, Inc., c/o People Loving People Thanksgiving Dinner, P.O. Box 35, Rogersville, TN 37857. All donations are used strictly to purchase the food for the dinner. Interested sponsors or donors can call Jones for more information at (423) 272-3150.

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