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Volunteers give back at free community Thanksgiving
Rotary Thanksgiving 2017 1
Bethany Goines serves turkey at the free community Thanksgiving dinner held Nov. 22 at Veterans Memorial Park. More than 110 people were served at the dinner. - photo by Allie Dean

The season for giving was in full force last week when the Rotary Club of Dawson County along with volunteers from local organizations and clubs took time out of their holidays to provide a free community Thanksgiving dinner. 

The dinner, held Nov. 22 at Veterans Memorial Park, was a culmination of a few weeks’ hard work by volunteers with the Rotary Club as well as Northeast Georgia Medical Plaza 400, Kroger, Chick-fil-A, John Megel Chevrolet, Abba House, the Dawson County Middle School and Dawson County High School Interact Clubs and the DCHS Lady Tigers basketball team, among others.

 The meal, which volunteers prepared for 150 people, consisted of pounds and pounds of turkey and ham, dressing, sides and a table of desserts.

The dinner lasted from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and by 5:30 over 80 people had already come through to eat. Volunteers also packed takeout boxes for personnel at the sheriff’s office and at the fire stations.

Chris Sharp, Abba House co-founder, handed out plates at the start of an assembly line of servers. She stood next to Jo Brewer, executive director of Medical Plaza 400, who served turkey and ham.

Sharp said she had cooked all of the ham, turkey and dressing in her industrial kitchen, and along with Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes, organized the dinner and helped it run smoothly.

“I just joined Rotary last year,” Sharp said, handing plates to a family that had just walked through the doors to the gym. “It’s a great cause.”

At a table further down, Senior Services Director Dawn Pruett wrangled her clients, a half-dozen seniors, who had just finished up their Thanksgiving meals.

Members of the DCMS Interact Club, sponsored by teacher Vanessa Alman, refilled drinks and took up empty plates.

And a mother and son sat at the end of one long table, quietly eating their desserts.

Dan Wilson said he and his mother Barbara learned about the dinner through Facebook. The two complimented the meal, and Wilson said he had other Thanksgiving plans, which included attending the Friends of Recovery Thanksgiving dinner the next day.

Wilson had good news beyond his recovery- he had recently learned he was going to begin work Dec. 1 at Avita Community Partners, helping others beat their addiction.

Wilson was one among many at the dinner that night with something to be thankful for: Community.

“One of the great aspects of living in a small town is our sense of community-our citizens truly care about one another,” said Haynes on Tuesday. “The Rotary Club of Dawson County is grateful for the opportunity to serve our community through hosting the annual community Thanksgiving meal. It was a fantastic evening of fellowship and community support.”