An 11-year-old tradition lives on this year, as Gainesville’s Community Thanksgiving is set to once again provide free meals to the public on Nov. 23.
Originally, Community Thanksgiving started out as an initiative to provide free meals to the homeless population in Gainesville. Over the years, the operation has grown from giving out 150 meals, to now providing nearly 1,200 in November 2022, according to event organizer Martha Randolph.
“Basically you just drive up, you don't have to get out of your car or anything,” Randolph said on WDUN’s The Martha Zoller Show. “Just tell us how many plates you want, we'll fix the plates and bring them to you.”
Plates served during the Community Thanksgiving will include chicken or other meats, along with dressing, rice, gravy, desserts and rolls. Randolph anticipates somewhere between 1,400 to 1,500 plates served this year.
Those interested in getting a free meal on Thanksgiving can show up at 966 Athens Street in Gainesville between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for drive-up or walk-up service.
Another organizer of the event, Kathy Amos, got involved through connections with Randolph. After hearing about Community Thanksgiving, Amos spread the word to other people in the community and helped raise money.
“I am now part of her family working on all this and have just loved helping do the flyers and do all the arrangements,” Amos said.
Another key to the operation is Angela Middleton, who helps with everything happening behind the scenes. With so many mouths to feed, Middleton works with volunteers on the days leading up to the event to prepare the food and organize volunteers.
“If you would like the opportunity to help out before Thanksgiving Day, look us up and we'll find something for you to do, and the community will really, really appreciate it,” Middleton said.
The easiest way to volunteer is by calling Amos directly at (678) 617-1413. From there, volunteers will receive an online form to fill out for availability and to select different ways to help the operation out.
Community Thanksgiving also delivers food to several different organizations, including Angel House, Gateway, Good News at Noon and Salvation Army, along with the Gainesville police and fire departments.
The organization is also accepting donations at M&M Down Home Catering in the form of food or money.