The generosity of the Central Missouri community is on display again this holiday season.
Thousands of people will enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas meals because of the work of Jefferson City nonprofits.
As is its tradition, the Holts Summit Soup Kitchen fed turkey meals with all the trimmings to several hundred people Thursday. The week-early event allows the kitchen's volunteers to take the Thanksgiving holiday off to be with their families.
Those who will provide hot, fresh Thanksgiving meals this Thursday are eager for the holiday to arrive.
Salvation Army of Jefferson City
The Salvation Army of Jefferson City will once again host two Thanksgiving meals for the public to attend. The community dinners are free. They will occur from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. at the Center of Hope, 927 Jefferson St.
The nonprofit will host nearly identical events for Christmas, according to corps officer Maj. Sarah Windell.
The community dinners will consist of traditional Thanksgiving fare -- turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole and desserts, she said.
Call 573-635-1975 to learn about opportunities to volunteer at the Salvation Army during the holidays. Staff members especially enjoy seeing families help during holiday meals.
In addition to the meals, the Salvation Army continues its Red Kettle Campaign. The campaign is the largest fundraiser the Salvation Army has. Funds raised remain in the Jefferson City area.
The Salvation Army is doing something new with its kettles this winter, Windell said.
"At Sam's Club, tap to give. People without cash can tap on the signs that are posted," she said.
The signs connect to mobile devices. People may tap to pay through either their credit card or cell phone. The devices accept Master Card, Visa, American Express, Apple Pay or Google Pay.
"We're seeing if it works. If so, we'll have them at more locations next year," Windell said.
Bell ringers are out, but many shifts remain unfilled. Go to registertoring.com to find available times and locations.
Each year, the Jefferson City Host Lions Club takes over all the kettle locations in Jefferson City and rings bells. Lions Ring Day is Dec. 1 this year.
The Salvation Army has its angel trees up this weekend. Look for the trees in local Walmarts and at Capital Mall and you can pull recipients from the trees and provide them with Christmas gifts.
"It helps parents who are struggling this time of year," Windell said. "When juggling choices, we like people to choose to pay rent and electricity (over having to spend that money on Christmas gifts)."
The Salvation Army will also host its annual Homeless Persons Memorial at 4 p.m. Dec. 21, recognizing area homeless community members who have died this year. The event is in the garden at the Center of Hope. In case of bad weather, the event will move into the church.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 1206 E. McCarty St., will host a hot Thanksgiving meal and fellowship on the holiday.
This is Immaculate Conception's 15th annual community Thanksgiving meal in Kertz Hall.
The event is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Dine-in, carry-out and delivery options are available, according to Mike Schnieders. Call 573-635-6143 to reserve meals.
Volunteers began preparing today for the annual event. They expect to serve about 1,000 meals again this year. Most meals are delivered or picked up on-site, he added. Fewer than 100 people eat at the church.
More than 170 Immaculate Conception volunteers will collaborate to pull off Thursday's event, Schnieders said. Another 300 volunteers have donated food items for the meals during the past couple of weeks.
Work today started with the preparation of 50 turkeys. Once the baked turkeys cool, they are broken down and refrigerated until Thursday, Schnieders said.
"Patricia Coleman makes fresh dinner roles for all of the meals," Schnieders said. "Even some cinnamon rolls for the volunteers. They are to die for -- delicious. It's been a labor of love for them, too, her children and their friends. She does that Wednesday very early in the morning."
The holidays remind people of the Catholic Church's mission, he said.
"We at Immaculate Conception are God's people," he said. "God said to love each other and to take care of each other. That's what we're trying to teach our children. We take that seriously. Thanksgiving is a good time to do that."
First Baptist Church
Yet-to-be-determined entertainment will occur during the First Baptist Church Thanksgiving dinner that will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday.
The church, at 301 E. Capitol Ave., provides entertainment during the event each year so participants can sit and enjoy a festive meal, according to Gary Hemphill. Although not required, the church suggests $10 donations for the meals, which include turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie (apple, cherry and pumpkin). Drinks are included. The church is adding lemonade this year.
Call the church soon at 573-634-3603 to reserve your meals. People wishing to volunteer should also call in advance and ask what positions are open.
"It's a great opportunity for families to come in and work together as families to serve the people," Hemphill said. "A great time for families to set examples for their children to give. It's so important for family values."
Dine-in and delivery options for meals will be available, Hemphill said.
"Our children's department is doing artwork for us. It is fun to look at," he said. "It's an experience for all ages of our congregation."
The church served about 700 meals last year, Hemphill said. And as usual, it will deliver to first responders and others who are working on the holiday. Volunteers are ready to deliver meals to their doors.
"The exciting part for me is we're not the only ones in Jefferson City profiting this opportunity -- Immaculate Conception, Salvation Army and other organizations are doing it," he said. "It's not a solo venture by any means. The competition is always welcome. We're feeding the body and feeding the souls -- helping people find purpose and place."
American Legion Post 5
American Legion Post 5 will host a Thanksgiving dinner 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday at Roscoe Enloe Post 5, 1423 Tanner Bridge Road.
The cost is $17 for adults and $9 for children 10 and younger. The meal will feature ham, turkey, dressing, corn, rolls, green bean casserole, Legion slaw, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie or cobbler.
The Samaritan Center was one of at least three local nonprofits that provided foods for families to prepare. Others were the Elks Lodge and Building Community Bridges.
Recently falling prices have helped the center reach its goal to provide 1,600 families with holiday meals. Dinners will continue to be distributed on pantry days this week. The center is only open Monday and Tuesday this week, according to operations manager Ben DeFeo.
The center provides everything necessary for families it serves to cook and serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Clients must qualify for services at the center, based on federal poverty levels.
The families are given a Thanksgiving package during one of the Samaritan Center's regular food pantry days.
Families began receiving the packages earlier this month.
As for Christmas, the Samaritan Center has completed sign-ups for its adoption program. The program will provide Christmas for 1,201 people, including seniors. Forms to sign up to adopt families or individuals are available at midmosamaritan.org.
Adopters are given the choice whether to deliver gifts to clients or to drop them off at the center and allow staff members to deliver them. Gifts for delivery must be dropped off at the center no later than Dec. 6. Delivered gifts must reach the family for whom they are intended no later than Dec. 13.
"We also have Santa's Workshop for folks that don't qualify to be adopted but qualify for services," DeFeo said. "It's for families that have kids in the age range."
Years ago, the center narrowed down who qualifies for Santa's Workshop to just Cole County, DeFeo said. However, if a client from outside the county uses the Samaritan Center for services, and they have children younger than 13 in the house, they can go to the workshop and pick up two toys for each child. Other items that are available are hats, gloves, blankets and other winter necessities, he said.
"(Families) end up getting a pretty good chunk of stuff to give to their kids for Christmas," DeFeo said.
The center is accepting toy donations during business hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday. The offices will be closed this Wednesday through Friday.
Popular items to donate are makeup kits for girls and Old Spice bath kits for boys. Other useful items are basketballs, footballs and soccer balls. DeFeo said it's also important to consider giving gifts for children as young as infants, such as chew-on toys and stack rings.
Please avoid stuffed animals and board games.
"We need predominantly girls' toys," DeFeo said.
Elks Lodge No. 513
Elks volunteers distributed 80 meals to families Saturday, according to Eileen Scrivner, a past exulted ruler.
This year marks the 10th year of the event.
Elks National granted the local lodge $3,500 this year for Thanksgiving meals, an increase of $500, Scrivner said. The increase allowed the lodge to adopt an extra five families.
Typically, the meals, which go to Samaritan Center clients, include a turkey (with a roasting pan), sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, beans and other products (down to the marshmallows for the sweet potatoes, a pie and cool whip).
Falling prices have also helped the Elks.
"We'll have a couple hundred (dollars) left," Scrivner said. "We'll use that to buy turkeys to donate to the Samaritan Center."
More than 20 groups gathered early Saturday morning to deliver meals for the Elks, she said.
"(The meal package) is huge," Scrivner said. "The turkey and potatoes are usually on the side. You do need a couple of people per delivery."
Building Community Bridges
Building Community Bridges (BCB) had a Thanksgiving meal drive through much of November. It also held registrations for families to receive meals.
As of Wednesday, 61 families were to receive the meals, according to staff member Diane Struemph. To register, go to the nonprofit's Facebook page or call 573-832-3426. Meals include ham or turkey, instant mashed potatoes, dressing mix, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce and a dessert.
The nonprofit will distribute the meals from 2-6 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday.
It is conducting a toy drive until Dec. 11. Toys are to be distributed to parents from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 16 at its offices, 213 E. Ashley St.
BCB will host Brunch with Santa from noon-2 p.m. Christmas Eve. Visit Tawanda's Cafeteria, 1121 E. Miller St., to dine with Santa. Photos with Santa are $5 or free with brunch purchase. It costs $10 for adults, children 6-12 are $5, and children 5 and younger are free.