Stewpot volunteers deliver Thanksgiving meals

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 26, 2010

NATCHEZ — Driving up to a house on his Stewpot delivery route, Tom Hughes can tell you a little about each person living there.

He knows if they have cats or dogs. He knows if they live with other family members or alone. He knows if they’ve been sick lately.

He knows what is on the other side of the doors, and the meal recipients know each Thursday Hughes will knock on the door with a hot meal.

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“Rain, sleet, snow or hail, Tom is going to be here,” Stewpot recipient Jacob Norman said.

Norman has been receiving Stewpot meals for approximately four years and considers the service a blessing to the community.

“It is great that the community supports the Stewpot because it really is a blessing to the folks that get the meals,” Norman said.

Norman and several of his neighbors at Rawes Apartments in Natchez greet Hughes every Thursday with smiles on their faces and words of appreciation.

“They are usually smiling, thankful and happy to get a meal,” he said. “I don’t remember ever having someone who was just a grump.

“I think most of these people know that Jesus cares about them and loves them, and that is what keeps them upbeat.”

Hughes has been a regular delivery driver for the Stewpot since the 1990s. He delivers meals to approximately 25 people every Thursday.

Rella Rushing said the Stewpot has always been there to help her when she was going through a hard time. She doesn’t always get a meal, but knows she can depend on the Stewpot for a meal when she needs one.

“There would have been several times I wouldn’t have had something to eat if it wasn’t for (the) Stewpot,” she said. “They are there when I need them, and I hope they are always there.”

The Stewpot served approximately 300 meals Thanksgiving Day either through meal delivery or to folks who waited at the Stewpot’s front entrance on Franklin Street. Diners started lining up before noon for a plate of dressing, turkey, green beans and sweet potatoes Thursday.

Hughes said when he delivers meals to those on his route, he knows he is helping someone in need.

“What I like about the Stewpot is they don’t ask any questions,” he said. “If you have a need for food, they are going to fill it.

“In all my years of delivering, I haven’t met someone I thought was taking advantage of the Stewpot. They are people who, for whatever reason, need a little help with food.”

Hughes said he’ll be there to help as long as he can.

And many are thankful for that dedication.

“This is more of blessing than you can think of,” meal recipient James Heckard said.

Heckard has very limited use of his right arm, which makes cooking for himself difficult, and he said he often can’t afford to buy a lot of groceries. That is where he said the Stewpot steps in.

“It is wonderful to know that someone is willing to help you when you are down,” Heckard said.