Henager man, volunteers host free Thanksgiving community lunch

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HENAGER, Ala. – A Henager man who has made it his mission to help community members in need is keeping up that hard work. He is working to fill bellies this Thanksgiving.

It was hot in the kitchen of the Henager Community Center as Mark Young and his team of volunteers were cooking up enough food to feed 800 people who might not be able to afford a big Thanksgiving meal for their family.

“900 eggs, 20 hams, 18 turkeys, 25 gallons of green beans, 25 gallons of corn, 400 to 500 pounds of sweet potatoes,” said Young.

The former restaurant owner has been feeding the less fortunate a hot Thanksgiving meal for the last six or seven years.

The event takes months of planning. But this year, it is even more helpful as many have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

“People are struggling. It’s because of the virus, but virus or no virus people are struggling right now,” added Young.

“Some people can’t afford the $25 to $30 for a turkey or the $40 to $50 for a ham, so if this helps them out and they’re able to enjoy a family dinner then that’s all that matters,” said first-time volunteer Rebecca Shoaf.

Shoaf is one of the people impacted by the coronavirus.  She lost her job in October.

Shoaf told News 19 there will be strict COVID-19 safety precautions in place at this year’s free Thanksgiving day event.

“We have our gloves and our masks. Everything will be put in to-go containers. Everybody will be six feet apart. Nobody comes in to eat, they take it with them,” added Shoaf.

Young said the community service would not be possible with all of the volunteers and everyone who has donated money, food, and their time.

They are also feeding area first responders and healthcare workers that are on the frontlines during the coronavirus crisis.

Young said they ran out last year so if anyone wants a plate, he recommends getting there early.

They start handing out plates at 11 a.m. at the Henager Community Center.

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