Massive effort, planning required for Thanksgiving Day feeding project

By Greg Miller

   JOHNSON CITY -- A massive effort and much planning have gone into the planning for a hot dinner for a huge number of local residents on Thanksgiving Day from 2-7 p.m.
   Good Samaritan Ministries, Interfaith Hospitality Network, the City of Johnson City, Stock Pot, and the employees of Grady's American Grill are among the entities combining their resources to make the event a success. Grady's American Grill, 1914 N. Roan St., is donating its facilities for the meal.
   Event planners are anticipating that as many as 2,500 people will participate in the meal, which will feature turkey, ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, Jello salad, pumpkin pie, gravy, bread, coffee, tea and soft drinks.
   Good Samaritan Ministries, Grace Fellowship, Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, Central Baptist Church, Mountain View Baptist Church and University Parkway Baptist Church are among the groups providing transportation to the meal. Beginning at 1:30 p.m., vans will begin route one at Harrison Village, travel on to Lakeview Village, and Keystone Family Resource Center, before completing the journey to Grady's. This route will be on the half hour, with its last pickup at 5:30 p.m. Route two will begin at 2 p.m. at Carver Recreation Center and make stops at Watauga Square and John Sevier Center on its way to Grady's.
   "We decided about a month-and-a-half ago that we wanted to help the community," said Sonya Gray, assistant manager of Grady's. "Grady's is hosting it and providing the facilities to serve the meal, and getting up the list of volunteers to help coordinate and run it."
   Grady's, Gray said, is well pleased with the efforts of the non-profit organizations in coordinating the event. "We had the idea to do it, but we didn't know how to get the people here, and they've come up with great ideas to get the word out to the less fortunate and people who won't have a place to eat.
   "It's going to be a very busy day, probably a busier day than we've seen. We're really excited about it. We just wanted to give something to the community. A lot of people won't have a place to eat, and it'll be a good Samaritan thing to do."
   "The Interfaith Hospitality Network works with families that are currently homeless and displaced," said Brian Rosecrance. "That's why we were invited on with Grady's, and we appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this. We'll be bringing a lot of the families we've worked with in the past to that meal, as well as working with some of the other entities that we relate to in the community that also serve those families. We're real thrilled to be a part of it, and that Grady's is extending their thanks in this way to the community."
   The City of Johnson City is helping to coordinate the efforts of the non-profit groups, helping to publicize the event, especially to the indigent population, and helping to coordinate the transportation effort. "It's been more of a coordination thing, helping Grady's and the other non-profits here in town that are working on getting this done on Thanksgiving Day," said Steve Baldwin, Community Development Coordinator for the City of Johnson City,
   "We're supporting Grady's in this effort," said Kathy Smith, the Food Programs Coordinator for Second Harvest Food Banks of Northeast Tennessee. "We think it's a great community effort. We're really pleased to be involved. We're helping provide some of the food for the event, as well as through our Second Helpings Program. Any food that is left over from the event will be picked up and taken to the area soup kitchens."
   "We're very excited to be a part of this," said Penny Cochran, social worker with Good Samaritan Ministries. "It's something in our community that's really needed. It will give the people of our community the opportunity to sit down and eat and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, where they might not otherwise have the opportunity."
   Valley Produce of Knoxville, Royal Cup of Knoxville, IJ, Heavenly Hams, Stock Pot, Prism and National Linen are among those providing corporate donations for the event.
   The project is called "The First Annual Grady's Gives Thanks." "We're going to try to do this yearly," Gray said.
   For more information, call 928-0288.