Hundreds pack Williamson County centers for feasts and fellowshi - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Hundreds pack Williamson County centers for feasts and fellowship

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. -- Hundreds packed into two community centers in Williamson County to celebrate Thanksgiving with feasts and fellowship.

The Herrin Community Thanksgiving Dinner celebrated its 30th year of service inside the Herrin Civic Center Thursday. The event honors the late Mayor Ed Quaglia and attorney Bart Mann. It takes dozens of volunteers to cook the 100 turkeys, the sides, and to serve.

"I come every year, the day before to help make all the cakes, and then I usually help serve," said volunteer Donna Fly. "It's great to see so many people show up and enjoy it, and they do."

Joelle Shelton grew up in Herrin, but this was her first time attending the event. She decided to grab an apron and volunteer too, saying "I felt like this was a great opportunity to get to know my community and get to know the people."

Even those who just showed up to eat had previously worked the event, like Carole Martinez, who moved to Herrin from Chicago 15 years ago.

"It's just giving, you know if you give of yourself, you get so much," said Martinez. "It's community, because our family is not here. And when you're here with other people you feel like you belong."

In Carterville, seven area churches partnered to feed those who came to the Carterville Community Center. George Blatter lives in Herrin, but joined his friends here, to enjoy the holiday.

"I think it's an excellent way to spend thanksgiving, especially when you don't have lots of family around, some place like this to come is really comforting," said Blatter.

Volunteers like Dana Roland also get comfort from spending their Thanksgiving serving more than 300 people.

"The smiling faces and the very happy people and everyone is just so thankful and grateful to be here," said Roland. "I have cut desserts all morning, started about nine and we've cut a million pumpkin pies and plated them in to-go containers or for the tables. It's very rewarding."

Organizers say 11 years of feeding this community has been worth it. But they do need some help continuing the tradition. If you would like to donate to the Carterville Thanksgiving Community Dinner, you can drop off cash and checks at the Christian Covenant Church.

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