GREENFIELD — With their young daughters in tow, Crystal and Rob Beiswenger spent Thanksgiving morning delivering turkey dinners with all the fixin’s to those who couldn’t make it out of the house.
It’s the Indianapolis family’s tradition that started when oldest daughter, Samantha, 5, was just a baby. They spend the morning giving back before heading to Lafayette for a meal with family.
The Beiswengers, who joined hundreds of volunteers serving meals on Thursday at the 10th annual Feast of Plenty, hope the tradition teaches their young daughters a lesson about community and helping those less fortunate.
“When you give back, you realize you have more than you need,” Rob Beiswenger said.
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Feast of Plenty, served at the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds on Apple Street in Greenfield each Thanksgiving, provides a meal by delivery, dine-in at the fairgrounds or pickup to anyone who needs help over the holidays.
More than 900 meals were delivered throughout central Indiana Thursday; altogether, about 3,000 meals were expected to be served.
It’s an undertaking made possible by an army of volunteers, many of whom give up their own holiday to make others’ more cheerful.
They come from all over; many seek to help their Hancock County neighbors, while others travel from neighboring towns after hearing about the volunteer effort.
For the Beiswenger family, volunteering for Feast of Plenty is a good way for them to feel part of the community, Crystal Beiswenger said.
And the families and residents they delivered meals to were especially grateful, she said.
“You can tell they needed it,” she said. “They’re people who aren’t going to have Thanksgiving unless someone brings it to them.”
One woman gave the family $2 to donate to the effort; she knew it wasn’t much, but it was her way of contributing and saying thank you, Rob Beiswenger said.
Every year, volunteer turnout amazes organizer Lisa Muegge. Lots of helpful hands make quick work, she said. In less than two hours, the group finished assembling more than 900 meals for delivery.
“Everybody is working hard,” Muegge said. “The last few days, they really rallied.”
Heidi Dellekamp and her nieces, Abby and Mallory Bolding of Markleville, attended the event for the first time. They always look for ways to volunteer on the holiday to give back to those less fortunate.
Abby, 8, and Mallory, 13, served corn and stuffing to hungry volunteers and residents. Later, the family would enjoy its own Thanksgiving meal.
For Mallory, the event reminded her to be grateful for all she has; even though she had to be up early on her day off from school, she was happy to be giving back.
“It always makes you feel good,” she said.
Amelia Spoor of Hancock County spent the day serving pie alongside her family, which celebrated Thanksgiving the night before in order to spend the day at Feast of Plenty.
It was her first time volunteering on Thanksgiving, but she was looking forward to making it a tradition.
Though she spent most of her morning boxing pies for families she’d never see, she knew the event made a difference in her community.
“It’s definitely a community event,” she said. “It’s very welcoming and a lot of fun.”
The event serves meals to anyone who needs them, no questions asked. It also provides pantry and grocery supplies to families who are struggling. Those items are donated by community members, and as delivery drivers make their rounds dropping off meals, they also leave a grocery sack.
On Thursday, the earliest shift started before the sun rose as volunteers opened cans and prepared a home-cooked meal. They worked through the afternoon serving meals, and at the end, they packed up, taking leftover fresh meals to the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen, where they’ll be served to needy families dining there.
Nonperishable food items are donated to other charity events, including a Christmas Eve dinner, which will be served at the fairgrounds next month.
The way the community comes together to help their neighbors truly amazes Muegge, who gives thanks to God for the community she calls home.
“I like to call it the miracle on Apple Street,” she said.