A little more than 1,200 came hungry and left stuffed from the Annual Community-Wide Thanksgiving Feast at the Civic Center on Thursday. A continuous crowd kept volunteers busy serving up heaps of savory turkey and dressing with the traditional sides.
“The crowd stayed steady until 12:30 p.m. We cooked for 2,000. We actually served 1,703,” organizer Hector Gutierrez said.
Of that number, a little more than 500 were delivered to those in area nursing homes and the police and fire department.
“The hardest part is deliveries,” Gutierrez said.
Some came as far as New York, others were local or from the Houston area, according to Gutierrez.
“A man’s granddaughters came to visit him from New York,” Gutierrez said. “They said ‘thank you for letting us know, we are so glad you put this on.’”
Sisters Lorraine Kana of El Campo and Janell Labay of Hamshire near Beaumont enjoyed the food and time together.
“I just love El Campo,” Labay said. “I consider it home.”
The sisters’ maiden name was Dressler and their father was a carpenter here.
“We had 11 kids in the family,” Labay said. “We are the only two left.”
The serving line was never congested as in previous years because volunteers were able to begin serving a little earlier.
“The start time depends on when the caterer comes,” he said. “They were here by 10:15 a.m., so we got busy serving people by 10:45.”
Many families came together to enjoy the meal, and some came individually.
“We had quite a bit of family that came as a group,” he said. “And a lot of individuals came and sat with friends or made new acquaintances.”
Volunteers and sponsorships were especially appreciated, because without their help this event would not be possible, according to Gutierrez.
“We had 168 volunteers that came in to help or they brought desserts,” he said.
Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, El Campo High School National Honor Society students, volunteers from the Mennonite church and some local businesses as well as the Wharton County Sheriff’s trustees also helped out.
“Everything ran pretty smoothly,” he said. “We were very pleased with the turnout.”