For the first time since Ashland Elks began cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the entire community, there was not enough food left at the end of the day Thursday to share with inmates at the Boyd County Jail.
“We served 1,600 meals. It was unbelievable,” said Ashland Elk Mark Ison. “We’ve had 1,400 before, but never 1,600. I think we had one pan of dressing, one pan of mashed potatoes and maybe half a pan of turkey left. We ran out of deserts. We ran out of rolls. We ran out of yams.
Ison, who admitted going home Thursday and sleeping solidly until the next day, said: “We had 900 deliveries and carryouts. We had 800 boxes and had to borrow another 100 from the club. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“We usually have three or four pans of everything left and we call the jail and let them have it for the inmates. They didn’t get that call this year. I hope the inmates ate early because they didn’t get anything from us.”
The team of Elks who volunteer for Thanksgiving duties were helped tremendously by a big crowd of volunteers from the community, Ison said, including a group of eight or nine men from a local halfway house.
“They worked their hind ends off,” he said, describing the men’s enthusiasm for tasks ranging from garbage collection to dishwashing. “I’m telling you they were a great bunch of fellows. They were a great help. Son, they didn’t stop. They did a heck of a job.”
Many who shared the meal gave a little extra donation as a show of support, Ison said.
“It was also the most donations we’ve ever had at the door. That’s well appreciated, too,” he said, adding people can still contribute to the Thanksgiving dinner fund, and reminded the local lodge will be doing it all again in 30 days for the annual community Christmas dinner. He said one person who got two carry-out meals Thursday donated $40 to the cause. “You know this is something they believe in or they wouldn’t pay that much for two meals. I know I wouldn’t.”
Ison said there were “heart-touching” moments throughout the day Thursday, including a $2 donation from someone who needed a meal delivered.
“And we had a lot of people saying the cornbread was so good it reminded them of their grandma’s,” he added.
Ison said he has been pondering the causes for such a marked increase in demand for Thanksgiving dinner. The economy certainly has something to do with it, he said, although he believes the community-wide meal is just an excellent option for many who can’t cook for themselves or have too many family members to accommodate otherwise.
The Elks who always report for duty were all extra tired at the end of the day Thursday, Ison said, noting each is ready to reconvene in the kitchen before Christmas.
“As people left they would say ‘See you next year,’ or ‘See you in a month.’ In 30 days we do it all again,” Ison said, emphasizing his personal appreciation for everyone involved.
“They all know who they are.”
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.