Volunteers came from far and near to help the local American Legion members serve 600 people during their annual free Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.


Volunteers came from far and near to help the local American Legion members serve 600 people during their annual free Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.
Among the volunteers was a family from Normal, Ill. This family helped last year and returned to continue giving the children experience to doing something for others, explained Jess Ornelas, activities chairman for the Emmette J. Shields American Legion Post No. 55, which provided the holiday dinner.
Although the majority of the volunteers were local people, some also came from New London and Bowling Green, he said.
In addition to the 300 meals that were carry-outs, the Legionnaires and helpers served another 300 at the Legion Hall on Highway HH, said Harry Graves, Legion vice commander.
Twenty-seven turkeys were baked at the Legion Hall, with many of them donated by the members, said Graves. “We had people working all day yesterday and today.”
Among the volunteers was a group from Clover Road Christian Church, including Joan Rouse, and Lisa and Rod DePriest. Rouse explained Rod suggested they help this year, which some of them had done in the past.
“We had a lot more volunteers this year,” Ornelas said. “They were just great. We had a nice chain gang with kids (helping) for the take-outs. The kids wore gloves, and we had someone check each plate at the end of the line.”
Among the youth helping were members of Cub Scout Pack 555, Boy Scout Troop 117 and Girl Scout Troop 9016.
Antigone and Anthony Collier, who help lead all three groups, were there with the Scouts, along with their son, Marc, a member of Troop 117.
Taking a break from refilling coffee cups, Ornelas explained that the next Legion project is the December coat drive for Missouri’s homeless military veterans. Donated clothing of all kinds is needed and may be donated at the Legion Hall on Highway MM. Additional details will be reported later.