Volunteers pour into Stewpot, feed 300

Published 12:08 am Friday, November 28, 2008

NATCHEZ — The people of the Miss-Lou have been especially giving to the Natchez Stewpot this Thanksgiving.

“This year we have had more given to us than ever,” Stewpot Director Louis Gunning said.

“I thought that with the economy the way it is we would be struggling this year, but that’s not a problem.”

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Along with the food that the organization delivered to those who are home bound, the Stewpot gave recipients small bag of toiletries — toothpaste, hairbrushes, soap, shampoo — that students at Adams County Christian School put together.

Along with the regular delivery drivers, other volunteers show up on Thanksgiving, Gunning said.

“They might take five or six meals and just deliver them in their own neighborhoods,” he said. “We don’t turn anyone down.”

But home-delivered meals were not the only order of the day, and with 300 meals to be served volunteers gathered in the Stewpot kitchen to strain peas, heat potatoes and prepare plates.

The plates included ham, turkey, dressing, sweet peas, sweet potato casserole, bread and cake with strawberries and cream on top.

All of that food took a lot of work to prepare, though, and Stewpot cook Johnnie Davis said she worked until 10 p.m. Wednesday night and returned to work at 7 a.m.

But once that food is done, it’s business as usual, Davis said.

“It’s a regular lunch special,” she said.

Davis wasn’t alone in preparing the food, however, and the 15 turkeys that eventually became the main course of Thursday’s meal were divided among volunteers.

“One lady cooked six turkeys for us,” Davis said.

Regular Stewpot volunteer Sandra Johnson said she decided to spend her Thanksgiving dispensing food at the charity because she knew it would be busy.

“We just wanted to make sure everything is alright and goes smoothly,” she said.

As the 11 a.m. opening approached, volunteers took their place in the plate assembly line, which snaked across the front of the kitchen and halfway down the side of another wall.

First time volunteer Nkeemeha Harris said she thought, at the end of the day, she would look back and be glad she gave her time.

Her friend, Jessica Chatman, agreed.

“I just wanted to help the less fortunate,” she said.