Volunteers in Jackson County serve hundreds of neighbors this Th - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Volunteers in Jackson County serve hundreds of neighbors this Thanksgiving

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JACKSON COUNTY (WSIL) Volunteers were busy in Murphysboro and Carbondale helping with Thanksgiving dinner traditions that date back more than three decades.

One of those dinners takes place at the Knights of Columbus in Murphysboro, where hundreds of neighbors made their way Thursday for a hot meal. Coordinator Mickie Martin said volunteers make the holiday dinner possible and start preparations early in the week. 

"We start primarily on Tuesday and start prepping for Today," Martin explained.

One volunteer who helps to make it all happen is Greta Ripperda, who believes lending a hand is a great way to give back. 

"It's so great to see people I see out and about in the community, just enjoying their food, enjoying the atmosphere," she says. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of folks also made their way to Carbondale's Newman Center. Coordinator JP Dunn has taken part in the dinner for the past 31 years. Dunn said his participation is a memorial to his grandmother but also serves as a way to help those who might not have anywhere else to go on the holiday. 

"It just gives me a chance to give back to the community," he explains. "A lot of faces I recognize, I see every year, and it's good to see them back and know that they're doing okay," he said.

More than 50 people that come together to make the Thanksgiving meal a success. One of those is Volunteer Meg Austin, who says it's about making the day better for others.

"There's something special about having the opportunity to serve others," she remarked. "There's a joy that comes from it that you just can't get anywhere else."

As the holiday comes to an end, Dunn just hopes diners leave knowing he and the other volunteers care. 

"I hope they know that someone cares, I hope they know we care and we're here to help them out," he says. 

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