Rather than bellying up to their own family dining table or napping on the couch while football games play in the background, dozens of volunteers offered their time Thursday to make sure those less fortunate had a Thanksgiving worth remembering.

St. Patrick Catholic Church parishioners served more than 1,000 meals, while volunteers at the Fraternal Order of Police divvied out hundreds more as Terre Haute rallied to serve its most vulnerable.

Adrian McDonald and Terry Greenwood spent much of the past three weeks preparing for Thursday’s meal service at the Fraternal Order of Police building on South 14th Street.

McDonald said she was moved to action after hearing the story of a local hospital patient who said they’d not likely get a hot meal on Thanksgiving unless they were to complain of chest pain and check themselves into the hospital again.

Little did she know, McDonald admits, that friends, family and a host of local businesses would flock to her idea and offer enough food and volunteer hours to feed hundreds.

McDonald said the effort received donations from Baesler’s Market, Grand Traverse Pie Company, Little Bear Coffee Co., Delish Cafe, Big Willy’s, Texas Roadhouse and Pepsi Co.

“Getting people in here, sitting them down and giving them a hot meal they might not get otherwise — it’s been heartwarming to see the community step up and provide,” McDonald said.

Greenwood said the generosity on display Thursday is part of what makes Terre Haute special, despite others’ best efforts to run it down at every turn.

“Just look every time something happens to somebody, whether it’s a house fire or someone needs a meal, you always see somebody here come through for that person,” Greenwood said.

“It all restores your faith in humanity, as sad as that may be to say,” McDonald said. “People always complain there’s nothing here for them and say that Terre Haute is this and that, but it’s not. Just look around.”

At St. Patrick’s School across town, parish families carried on a decades-old tradition of serving the under served.

With hundreds visiting the school’s cafeteria throughout the day and many more meals delivered throughout the community, organizer Joe Newport said it takes a veritable army of people to make the effort go off.

“It’s a pretty organized effort, but it still takes a lot of people willing to give of themselves and their time to make this work,” Newport said.

Pastor Father Dan Bedel said it’s a sight to see so many come together to help the less fortunate. To him, he said, the effort is what a church community should strive for.

“Social outreach of the church is a big part of what we do,” Bedel said.

“It’s when the church and community shine brightest.”

Reporter Alex Modesitt can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at alex.modesitt@tribstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarAlex. 

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