PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The South Side Mission celebrated 50 years of bringing hot Thanksgiving meals to Peoria’s residents in need this Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 25.
More than 350 volunteers from the area spent two weeks preparing almost 2,500 meals for delivery, making 400 pounds of green beans, 740 pounds of mashed potatoes, and about 1,000 pounds of turkey. Reverend Craig Williams, the mission’s executive director, said it’s a blessing to be able to serve these kinds of meals to the community.
“You know, here we are, just continuing to do what God blessed us to do,” Williams said.
Williams said it has been a privilege for the mission to be able to do this event for the last 50 years for the community.
“In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning us,” Williams said. “It means that in all things we can be thankful. Some people don’t have what we have.”
The deliveries are boxed with the Thanksgiving dinner, a newspaper, and a gospel track. One volunteer, Orin Naramore, has been working at the event with his family for the past 18 years.
“Eighteen years ago I got sober, and we started to come down here to the mission and giving back to the community, and we love doing it,” Naramore said. “It’s kind of a family tradition now.”
Naramore said the holiday reminds him to be grateful for life, something he also finds in helping others.
“There’s so much reward in it, to be able to see and greet people who, again, may not be able to see anyone but you all day,” Naramore said.
Williams said after having it outside in freezing temperatures last year, those at the South Side Mission are happy to be back inside and closer together again.
“It’s always great to be able to rub shoulders and connect in fellowship with other believers and other people that want to serve our community,” Williams said.
He also said he’s always thankful for the tremendous support they receive each year.
“South Side Mission is made up of volunteers,” Williams said. “We could not do it without you all.”