By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Due to COVID-19 restrictions, changes in the process and location have been made to Warsaw’s Thanksgiving community meal normally held each year at Center Lake Pavilion.
There will be no sit-down dinner. Meals this year will be available for carry-out or delivery only, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26, from the American Legion, located at 301 N. Buffalo St. in Warsaw.
The Thanksgiving community dinner was started by Mike and Alice Schooley over 30 years ago.
Jimmy Baker and Doug Brumfield later took over the program.
When Baker passed away 14 years ago, Charlie Miller, who has been involved with the program for 25 years, became the organizer.
“The Elks and Legion have been involved since I came on board.Lots of local businesses and local people donate money to help cover the cost,” Miller said. “The mashed potatoes are made by hand by the same two guys for over 25 years — Rick Sahagun and Gary Landis. Our pies are all made from scratch by ‘Dan the Pie Man’ from Dan’s Pies in North Webster.”
Steve Phipps began doing the cooking for the community Thanksgiving dinner 20 years ago.
“The neat thing about it is that people from all walks of life come to eat, not just people in need. We’ve had former mayors, millionaires and people in need all together for over 30 years now,” Miller said. “A lot of people don’t realize the when the kids grow up and leave town, a lot of people can’t justify making a meal that size for just two people at home, so they come and enjoy Thanksgiving with us.”
In past years, Miller said, they have averaged 350 deliveries and 300 walk-ins. All leftover food is delivered to local shelters.
Meals are free and available to anyone. Deliveries are limited to Kosciusko County.
“If you’d like carry-out, give us a call for large pick-ups or just show up for smaller ones,” Miller said. “Thank you to all our corporate and individual sponsors and volunteers we couldn’t do it without your generous donations of time and money.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer with meal delivery is asked to contact the Elks Lodge #802 in Warsaw.
The meal consists of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, dinner rolls and assorted pies, both regular and sugar-free.
All volunteers will be required to wear a mask when delivering meals or assisting with carry-out service.