More than 1,000 Thanksgiving turkeys were distributed by The Dickson County Help Center in the three days before the holiday last week.
“The first year we started out with 80 turkeys; and never would I have thought we’d be giving away over 1,000 turkeys, but it’s all about people caring enough to give to and support the mission of what we do,” said Help Center director Renee Boehm, who has worked at the center for 14 years.
She said that each person receives a 10-14 pound turkey with a bag for all the fixings.
On the day before Thanksgiving, a group of volunteers from the Topless in Tennessee Jeep Club were stationed in the Help Center parking lot to cook the turkeys.
“We started out as a club several years ago as a way to bring together jeep owners for rides and get-togethers, but now it’s a mission of giving back and help out as best we can wherever there is a need,” club founder Paul McAllister said, adding that this is the third year the club has helped with cooking the turkeys.
McAllister said that it is clearly part of God’s plan for his group to make sure that people in need have a happy Thanksgiving.
“We got here at 7 o’clock (this morning) and got our pots going and the heat going to start cooking around 8,” he said. “The Good Lord is in this. He’s always working even when you think He’s not working. He is. It’s about so much more than you and I or us.
“We still do off-roading, but now we’ve done more community events than we ever thought we would … We jeepers are a giving kind of people, and we like to give back to our community, from parades to turkey-frying. When someone sees something done in Dickson County and this area, they always call us to get some of us to volunteer. There’s never been a time when no one responds.”
Boehm agreed with McAllister’s community spirit.
“We see God’s hand in everything we do from the amount of turkeys that we have to have available here for families in need, to the items in the thrift store and volunteers,” she said. “We’re cooking up turkeys today to take to families that are living in hotels with three, four, five children. They would not be able to cook those turkeys. So, we are preparing things here to take to them. There are many blessings, but it’s still a tough situation.”
Pam Edmond is assistant office manager for the Help Center and has been on staff for six years.
“It brings tears when you see someone with a walker or wheelchair in line for three hours,” Edmond said. “The majority of these people work. Some of them take precious time off to make sure that someone who is struggling to make ends meet will have a nice complete Thanksgiving meal. Others take time off from work to make sure they will have Thanksgiving for their family.”
Boehm and Edmond said they are grateful for the support the center receives from the Dickson County Sheriff’s Department (which helps out in the center’s thrift store), from Apex (picks up the turkeys) and from Second Harvest Food Bank (provides most of the food to be distributed). Boehm said that churches, businesses and individuals in the community supply the turkeys.
Several of those picking up turkeys walked away with smiles and tears of joy.
“I can’t cook it so it means a whole lot to me, and it means a whole lot more to people that have big families,” Dickson County resident Steve Smith said. “This helps us all out a whole lot. They got that food bank inside, and I come up here once a month. It sure makes a difference.”
Burns resident Curtis Primm has five kids and eight grandkids and works as a special education assistant at Dickson County High School.
“I appreciate us all helping out everybody as a community,” Primm said. “We’ve got so many people that are giving back.”
DICKSON HELP CENTER
Where: 103 W. College St., Dickson
When: Help Center and Thrift and Consignment Store is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Contact: Call (615) 441-0076 or go to dicksoncountyhelpcenter.org.