Community Thanksgiving adapts to COVID-19, everyone still eats

Brookhaven church serves up love

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (WLBT) - Jennifer Calhoun is the Director of Missions at the First United Methodist Church in Brookhaven.

Fourteen years ago she put together the Doug Sullivan Annual Community Thanksgiving Meal. Through the years they’ve seen the numbers of people eating rise from around 350 to more than 1,200.

Then the pandemic came.

“This year the question was do we do it or do we don’t do it? And my thought is, first off if we don’t do it, it’ll never happen again,” she said. “Second of all, if we don’t do it, then there’s a lot of people who depend on this who would not get a meal today.”

So instead of packing hundreds of people into the church throughout the day, they made the decision to go to delivery and pickup. Alex Calhoun is coordinating logistics this year, making sure delivery volunteers’ orders are all in concentrated neighborhoods.

“You know I start by looking up the address on Google maps on here, then on my tablet here I have the map of Brookhaven,” she said.

From there she groups the orders into areas so delivery drivers aren’t running all over town and they can serve people in a more timely manner.

The meal is named after late Mayor Doug Sullivan, who always dreamed of having a community meal for those who would be spending Thanksgiving alone, or who might not have a traditional meal.

“It’s for anyone really, but it’s for a lot of people if your family’s not in town, or if you’re spending it by yourself, and even the people working in town, there are so many people we’re delivering to that are just out working today,” said Jennifer Calhoun.

Calhoun says pandemic or not, she knows she and her squad of volunteers still made a difference to people who needed a little love this holiday.

“I don’t see the deliveries, but just knowing they’re appreciative and that they got a good hot meal today just warms my heart,” she said.

Copyright 2020 WLBT. All rights reserved.