Hundreds of volunteers at churches and charitable organizations around the Kansas City area gave thanks Thursday by preparing and delivering thousands of free meals.
At the Salvation Army at 101 W. Linwood Blvd., Maggie Rodgers made her way around the dining hall with her acoustic guitar. She beckoned dinner guests to join her singing spirituals and holiday carols.
“I just came to bring music and joy to people who were coming down here to eat,” said Rodgers, a music therapist who lives in Overland Park.
Rodgers, a first-time volunteer, joined nearly 200 others who served or delivered nearly 1,400 Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday, Salvation Army officials said.
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Music “unifies people,” she said. “The rhythm brings people together. It touches their hearts, it touches their minds. And here they are touching their stomachs. So it all works together — it touches the whole person.”
At the center, just west of Main Street, people walked, drove or took the bus to line up for the cafeteria doors to open at 11 a.m. The steady rainfall did not deter many guests, officials said.
Once inside, they sat at tables while volunteers brought them heaping plates of turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and rolls. The annual dinner was free and open to the public.
“Thanksgiving is about family and fellowship, as well as good food,” said Maj. Evie Diaz, divisional commander for western Missouri and all of Kansas. “We are able to provide that in this nice place with great volunteers who are friendly and make it a nice place for dinner.”
Other volunteers stood in an assembly line and filled plastic foam containers with meals that were delivered to homebound people and the elderly.
“There is absolutely a need, and what touches me is when a whole family comes in,” Diaz said. “Normally, we would think they would be able to find some place to have Thanksgiving dinner, but when the small children and the parents come in, it is really touching.”
Another such program, Holiday Meals, drew hundreds of volunteers in the morning to Pleasant Green Baptist Church at 340 David L. Gray Drive in Kansas City, Kan. The volunteers, from various faith groups, assembled hot meals that then were delivered to about 2,000 people.