“We are friendly, loving hands that deliver a meal,” said the pastor, as he stood before more than 75 families inside the Corinth Middle School cafeteria.
It’s a Thanksgiving Day tradition 28 years in the making where the church’s congregation comes together to prepare and delivery 1,000 Thanksgiving meals to those less fortunate souls in Alcorn County.
“It’s so cool to see my hometown come together on Thanksgiving to give back to the community,” said 21-year-old Stennett Smith as she loaded up a spoonful of green beans on the assembly line. “This is something my family has always done – it’s what we love to do every Thanksgiving before having our family meal.”
Flanked between boys as young as seven on one side and city alderman Andrew Labas on the other, Smith hurriedly passes one filled container after another down the line.
“It’s kinda an unspoken thing,” she said with a laugh. “All the lines are in a race to see who can finish first.”
When done, Smith’s line will build 333 meals on their way to get boxed and delivered.
Among the deliverers includes local attorney Tyler Moss.
“My daughter (13-year-old Grier) and I have been delivering meals for the last seven or eight years. It’s turned into a nice tradition we do together,” he said.
Moss said it’s a humbling experience.
“We sometimes live sheltered in our own little world until we get out and spend some time delivering these meals. We see parts of the county we didn’t even know existed,” he said. “That’s a good feeling ... to give folks a good meal and show them the love of Christ.”
Although important, Elliott says the meal delivery isn’t a high pressured plot to get people to attend church.
“We do hand them a Bible word track, but we mostly try to be pleasant with people and give them the meal in Christ’s name,” said the pastor, who helped jumpstart the Thanksgiving meal delivery almost two decades ago.
“It started when a family in the church came to me and wanted to do something for the needy of the community. They said they wanted to pay and offer a meal to the community,” he said. “At first we had people come to us to pick up the meal. It wasn’t until we started delivering the meals that it really took off.”
Elliott said funding the meal delivery is now part of the church’s yearly budget.
The meal is catered and a core leadership team inside the church organizes the big day.
The team works with the Department of Human Services to find needy families in the community and the church fields phone calls by taking nominations.
“We actually reached our 1,000 meal limit last Friday,” he said. “Judging from the calls that came into the office, we could have gone way beyond that.”
Elliott gives many thanks to longtime volunteer Dick Atkins for helping see the day of operations runs smoothly inside the crowded cafeteria.
“This is something everyone enjoys doing,” said Atkins. “It really gives our church members an opportunity to show love to other people.”
As the assembly lines kick into overdrive and delivery drivers head out the door with boxes packed meals of dressing and the all the fixings, Elliott points to a large banner hung on the wall.
“Psalm 107:1 - ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good’,” said Elliot. “We are doing this not to think more highly of ourselves. We are doing this to express the truth of this verse and to show love on Thanksgiving Day.”