Volunteers raise spirits with work

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 25, 1999

Rain may have dampened the number of people at the Stewpot Thanksgiving Day, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of those who ate and those who served.

Bobby and Robin Pennington and their 12-year-old son, Michael Brown, were on the meal assembly line for the first time this year. &uot;We’re having a ball,&uot; Robin Pennington said. &uot;I will be doing it every year.&uot;

The Penningtons decided to join the Stewpot work crew this year because their whole family wouldn’t be together for their Thanksgiving meal until Friday.

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The clockwork precision of the meal assembly line is the product of the experience and organization of Shirley Wheatley, volunteer director for the Stewpot.

Wheatley has spent five years at the helm of the charitable organization – three as a paid director and the last two as a volunteer.

Operated by donations of time, money and goods from the community, the Stewpot fills an important void in many people’s lives.

&uot;They do a nice job,&uot; said Willie Gray of Natchez. Gray stopped in for the noon meal and to bring meals to friends and family.

Gray said he has made the Stewpot part of his Thanksgiving for several years now.

James Smith also stopped in for a Thanksgiving meal.

Another man who came for dinner preferred not to give his name, but said this would be his first Thanksgiving meal at the Stewpot. Usually, the Stewpot averages 175 meals carried out or eaten in, Wheatley said. Thursday, only 13 people ate in and only 135 meals were taken out.

&uot;It’s the rainy weather,&uot; Wheatley said. &uot;It traditionally keeps people in.&uot;

The kitchen work crew assembled at the 69 East Franklin St. storefront that houses the Stewpot at around 10 a.m. Thursday.

A heartfelt prayer of thanks began the serving line at about 11:45 a.m. Meals continued to flow out of the kitchen until 12:30 p.m.