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 Giving Thanks - American Legion's Annual Free Thanksgiving Meal Aimed at Thanking Community

December 3, 2008 - Knightstown American Legion Post 152 hosted its annual free Thanksgiving dinner last Wednesday. Over a dozen legion volunteers served over 300 people in about three hours, offering a turkey, green beans, yams, dressing and desserts both in the legion and in meals delivered to households throughout the Knightstown area.

According to longtime Legionnaire Darrell Haines, volunteers spent two days preparing 120 pounds of turkey, nearly three cases of green beans and sweet potatoes. A gallon of oysters were mixed with several loaves of bread to make a savory oyster dressing. The remainder of 15 bread loaves and 432 hamburger buns, donated by Klosterman’s Bakery and Hoosier Outdoor Power, combined to make several pounds of regular sage dressing. Dozens of pies and cakes made by Post 152 Legion Auxiliary members rounded out the meal.

Lines for the free meal began forming at about 10:30 a.m., and volunteers at two separate food tables began dishing up the holiday meal at 11 a.m. Legion members Sam Rector, John Nugent and John and Diana Love undertook the task of delivering meals to elderly shut-ins.

Haines, a key organizer of the free dinner, said he was stunned by how well the event came together. “We are so thankful for those who stepped up and helped,” he said. “It’s amazing. We were really impressed. A lot of people worked very hard to pull this off.”

The death of longtime legion bookkeeper Fred Stacy, whom Haines said will be sorely missed, added extra strain to the volunteer effort, as several legion members, including him, had to perform military graveside rites at Stacy’s funeral during the lunch hours.

The legion’s free Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition spanning at least 30 years, according to Haines. He said he believes this year’s dinner set a record for the amount of people and food served. “We started serving at 11 a.m. and finally ran out of food around 2 p.m. We received over $900 in donations throughout the day, which really makes us happy.

“This is good for the community and it’s good for (the legion),” Haines continued. “We hope it continues to grow.”

Dick and Dorothy Richey of Knightstown received delivered meals this year. Their son, Robin, has been in Methodist Hospital for nearly a month. Dorothy said their trips to and from Indianapolis have taken their toll on the elderly couple. While they’ve gone to the legion in the past for the free meal, this year Rector and Nugent delivered their meals. “I think it’s great,” Dorothy said. “Darrell Haines called and invited us two or three years ago. He delivered us a meal because he thought we were under the weather. It was very, very good. It’s so neat! It’s so wonderful for them to help people out like that. We’re very thankful.”


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