The Thanksgiving dinner served by Chances and Services for Youth looked a little different this year, but the tantalizing aroma of cooked turkey with all the trimmings tempted the taste buds just the same.

Instead of a traditional sit-down meal, CASY served carry-out meals sponsored by J. Ford’s Black Angus late Monday afternoon. On a first-come, first-serve basis, families drove into the parking lot at 1101 S. 13th St. and awaited their turn.

Around 5 p.m. Monday, CASY staff, interns and other helpers went up to the vehicles, asked families how many meals they needed and then delivered the pre-packaged meals to go; meals included turkey, mashed potatoes, noodles, yams, green beans, pumpkin pie and rolls.

Among those waiting in line was Tasha Reynolds and her two children, ages 9 and 14.

Son Blake attends CASY’s after-school program. “I think it’s very generous of them to give back to the community,” Reynolds said. 

Goodness to Go: CASY switches to drive-through format for Thanksgiving meal

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza

By bike, by car, it didn’t matter: Jimmy Ruffner accepts two Thanksgiving meals from Jaelyn Fluker, a senior at Indiana State University, during the distribution of meals at the Booker T. Washington Community Center by Chances and Services for Youth on Monday.

Soon, they drove up for their turn and several staff recognized Blake in the backseat. “How are you Blake?” a CASY staff member asked. He gladly accepted a piece of pumpkin pie.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the change to a drive-thru Thanksgiving dinner, said Brandon Halleck, CASY chief operating officer. 

The dinners were for “anybody in the community,” Halleck said. “It’s our way to give back to the community, like we try to do with a lot of our programming. We know the holidays are always a little tough for everybody, especially this year.”

The community appreciated it. Nearly 300 meals were served in 25 minutes.

While J. Ford’s is the main sponsor, Powers Orthodontics assisted with pumpkin pie, and Texas Roadhouse donated rolls. 

The staff prepared the meal at the CASY building, which has a commercial kitchen. CASY is located in the Booker T. Washington Community Center.

 “The need is always great, and I think with this year, we’re seeing the need is even greater,” Halleck said.  Many families have been adversely affected economically by the pandemic, including parents who have lost jobs or faced reduced hours.

Among the CASY staff assisting was Emily Freeman, who works with the Big Brother-Big Sister program.

“It’s really awesome. We’re used to doing it in-person, where we sit down with everyone and enjoy the meal and serve the meal, but this year we still really wanted to do it and give back to the community,” Freeman said.

Holly Mullenix, CASY youth programs director, said the annual dinner “means so much. I’ve been doing this now for eight or nine years, and it’s one of my favorite events, being able to give back to the community and make sure they have a great meal for Thanksgiving.”

Her daughter, Emmalyn assisted by taking food items, including rolls, to those lined up.

Among those in line was Christina Young, who requested a meal for herself and her fiance. “I think it’s awesome what they’re doing,” she said. Young especially appreciated the meals because “I’m low on food right now.” 

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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