As families across Garland County gathered on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving, many made their way to local churches and nonprofit organizations to give back to the community.
About 400 people received meals from "A Thanksgiving to Share," an event initially organized by Janice Davis that has evolved to include families throughout the community.
"This tradition we've formed extends far beyond serving the community. That's just one branch on the tree; when you get down to the roots, it becomes about the village who raises the children in the community," said volunteer Phillip Wilson.
People were able to come partake in a traditional Thanksgiving meal inside the fellowship hall of Visitor's Chapel AME Church, 319 Church St. Tables were set up throughout the hall so that volunteers and patrons were able to interact with one another, which created a very welcoming atmosphere.
Turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing were served up hot, while visitors took the opportunity to search for warm winter clothes from the coat closet. More than 250 meals were also home-delivered by volunteers.
"For me, this is all I know. This is what Thanksgiving is for my family," said Keenan Davis.
Davis and his mother help put on the event each year, hoping to make a difference in their hometown. Although Keenan Davis has not lived in Hot Springs for several years, he returns each Thanksgiving to help his mother host this event.
"This event is made possible because different families from different backgrounds bought into my vision and made it possible," said Janice Davis.
Among those helping serve the food was 15-year-old Dax Campbell. This was his first year volunteering on Thanksgiving Day with his family, and he says it just might become a new family tradition.
"I've been talking to the people coming in, helping when and where I could, and it's made me feel really good," said Campbell.
"We are helping people that really don't get help throughout the rest of the year. It's a good feeling and I will be back next year, for sure," he said.
Visitor's Chapel AME Church was just one of seven different locations serving Thanksgiving meals this holiday season. The Salvation Army served its traditional meal on Wednesday, and plans to pass out sandwiches made from Thanksgiving leftovers today from 5 to 6 p.m.
Other locations serving meals included First Presbyterian Church, 213 Whittington Ave., Samaritan Ministries Rescue Mission, 131 Sanford, VFW Post 2278, the Auxiliary and Disabled American Veterans and Gospel Light Church, 600 Garland.Local on 11/24/2017
Print Headline: Community celebrates Thanksgiving with service