The Margery Schwalm family has been providing free Thanksgiving dinners to the Fort Scott community for 28 years.
“It takes a good week out of my life to do this,” Margery said. “I would like to fix Thanksgiving dinner for my family next year.”
The best part for her is “talking to all the people that call and are so thankful for the meals,” she said. “I get lots of thank you’s from lots of people.”
“But I am tired,” she said. “I would love to have anyone pick it up.”
But for this year, she and about 25 family members along with some others, will be cooking, packaging, and giving away turkey with all the fixings.
There is a drive-through pickup and also a delivery service for those who can’t get out, but no sit-down meal.
The event is this Thursday, November 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. People can call Schwalm at 620.224.6769 to order the meals.
The City of Fort Scott supplies the orange cones that help direct the traffic the day of the dinner at the Elks, and her son David helps with the distribution of the dinners to those who pick up.
Schwalm is a lifelong member of the Elks and gets the use of the facility for free, she said.
Elks Club members Bill Brittain and Pat Bishop gather the turkeys and slow roast them, a few days before the dinner.
“We buy the turkeys from G & W Grocery Store,” she said. “Last year I paid about $700 for the turkeys. G & W donates the carryout bags.”
“Then I round up most of my family and a few friends and will debone them,” she said.
“Cindy Ziegler Schwalm makes sure everything in the kitchen is taken care of, she has several people that help her,” Schwalm said. “She has some big strong guys to help whip up those potatoes.”
Community Christian Church donates 50 pies and 15 cakes for the event.
“They do a wonderful job with the desserts,” she said.
Parkway Church of God donates money for the dinner rolls.
“The rest of the stuff I buy,” she said. “The carryout plates, seasonings, all the extra fixings to pull it all together.”
A free-will offering is accepted to help with the cost of the meal.
“Freewill donations generally pay for what I am out,” she said.
“We will be out there Thursday in the morning,” she said. “The helpers, the cookers, the handlers who pack up the meals.”
“Once I get everything taken care of, I will be in the background overseeing,” she said.