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Thanksgiving happier because we're all here'

By Staff
Nov. 24, 2000
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
More than 80 volunteers piled into the small, but warm and fragrant, dining room at LOVEs Kitchen Thursday. Together, LOVEs Kitchen and Meals on Wheels volunteers prepared more than 550 Thanksgiving dinners.
Gladys Ridgeway is the director of LOVE's Kitchen, which stands for Lauderdale Outreach for Volunteer Efforts. Ridgeway said she had at least 50 volunteers walk through the door ready to cook and serve.
Ocie Mason, LOVE's full-time cook, had mouth-watering smells wafting from the kitchen door as LOVE's employee Alfred Lee Anderson helped prepare the food for cooking. Hard candy and decorations topped long cafeteria-style tables. Some people came in for take-out, while others sat down together with their steaming dinners.
About 30 volunteers from Meals on Wheels, a branch of the Multi-County Community Service Agency, hurried in and out of the kitchen for deliveries.
Some of her volunteers had relatives in town from as far away as Texas and still came out to help, she said.
Vickie Thomas, a member of Greater Calvary Baptist Church, helped LOVE's volunteers with the cooking. Justice Court Judge Robbie Robinson volunteered as well.
Meridian High School teacher Ernest Smith and his chemistry class cooked turkeys and brought them in to be served. His students prepared plates, served food or delivered them to homebound residents. Chemistry students Ashley Curry and Lance Burnham set out for a nearby neighborhood with a carload of dinners.
People like Williminia Nelson, a lively 92-year-old blind woman unable to leave her home, appreciate volunteers. Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver regularly to her, and her house near LOVEs Kitchen was one of Curry and Burnham's stops. Delighted with their company, Nelson told Curry and Burnham Thanksgiving was "happier because we're all here."
Meals on Wheels volunteers delivered 218 plates of food Thursday, while LOVE's Kitchen volunteers served more than 350 meals from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ridgeway and Brooks say they always need volunteers. Ridgeway said she also needs funding, utensils, appliances, dish towels and canned goods. LOVEs Kitchen is located at 1914 18th Ave. and is open from 8 to 9 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
For more information, call Gladys Ridgeway at 485-9270 or Mary Brooks at 482-9891.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@meridianstar.com.

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