Every year a great Thanksgiving banquet is put together for people in the Holland, Michigan area by the Holland Rescue Mission. Over the years it keeps growing and this was the first year we were able to volunteer and we were quite SURPRISED to learn what a massive undertaking it is! The Banquet is open to those who can’t afford a dinner of their own, or those who are alone and haven’t any place to go for a Thanksgiving meal.
We arrived at the HOPE College Field House stunned to see enough seating for 1,500 people. ONE THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED! Tables as far as the eye could see in each direction! It was so well orchestrated by Anna Southwell and the HRM staff, within just a few short hours, everything was set up, laid out and decorated for the guests that would arrive later that evening. Community members donated desserts and there was a line of volunteers slicing, boxing, and stacking them for others (like us) to place at each seat. There were crafts on each table, crayons for kids, snacks and centerpieces. Volunteers from the Holland Fire Department came to help, it was the most firemen we had ever been around in one place!!
Set up was full of life and levity – fast and efficient – each of us happy to be contributing to the greater good of the community. It was really fun to be part of and made us all the more grateful for what we have. Some quick stats (hoping I get these right!!) to feed that many people – 140 turkeys, 500 pounds of potatoes, a cooking staff working a week in advance to prepare. The meal is ‘free’ for the visitors, but better than a meal, it makes a larger community of people into family for one day – differences aside for the sake of gratitude.
Local churches created care boxes for each household filled with cleaning supplies and household products. over 500 boxes created and decorated by kids. Truly amazing. Countless cheers for the staff, people and organizations that came together for such an auspicious event!