OAK HILL — If you don't already have plans for Thanksgiving dinner, the folks with the Community Thanksgiving Meal hope you'll join them.
You're invited to take a seat at the table at the Community Thanksgiving Meal Thursday.
The 19th annual meal is planned for Thanksgiving Day at the Lewis Christian Community Center at 469 Central Avenue.
"Anybody is welcome," says Lesley Taylor, who has coordinated the free community event for five years.
Delivery of carry-out orders to all parts of Fayette County will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday, and sit-down dinner will run from noon to 2 p.m. at the Lewis Center.
While the deadline to call in to secure deliveries has passed, individuals can still stop by Thursday to pick up meals to take with them, or they can sit and break bread with those who are present.
"Tomorrow morning, they can walk right through that door and tell us how many meals they need," Taylor said Wednesday.
Taylor says the annual meal wouldn't be a success without countless man-hours from representatives of local churches, civic groups and organizations, and businesses, as well as individuals — young and old alike. Many of those same folks also make financial donations or supply food and other items to the effort.
"Most of the area churches get involved," said Taylor, and "a lot of businesses."
For example, on Wednesday, representatives from at least one local business were on hand doing their part. "Jim Lively Insurance, they always come on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and help us," said Taylor.
Thursday's bounty will feature turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce and dessert, and Taylor estimates 2,500 meals will be delivered or consumed onsite.
Taylor has volunteered with the meal for nine years. What makes her want to continue volunteering her time?
"Being able to help other people, and that's why I come back every year," she said. "The people that we see, the people that come in and get meals, they're all appreciative and, if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be here."
The dinner, which started 19 years ago at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Oak Hill, is "very important to the area," said Taylor. "Some people, maybe they don't have the means by which to prepare a nice Thanksgiving meal for their family, and we can help them do that. And there are other people that maybe just can't get out."
There are also some who don't fall into either of those categories. "There are some folks that know me that come every year, there are some folks that know other people here, and they just come to fellowship, and we welcome that," she said.
Anyone wishing to help out in any manner Thursday is asked to send a message via the 19th Annual Community Thanksgiving Meal page on Facebook.
Financial contributions to assist with next year's event and beyond are welcome, and Taylor reminds people that volunteers are always needed, especially in the early days of the week leading up to Thanksgiving.
"On Monday and Tuesday, we didn't have a lot of volunteers," Taylor noted. Looking ahead to the 20th anniversary, she said, "Hopefully in the future we can get some more folks involved."
Financial donations can be sent to Community Thanksgiving Meal, c/o St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 345 Kelly Avenue, Oak Hill, WV 25901, noting “Thanksgiving meal” in the memo.
All that said, Taylor offers some simple, final words. "Come and eat."
Email: email@example.com or follow on Twitter @gb_scribe