Groups organizing Thanksgiving meals for community

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Michelle Armijo, aassistant cook at Lighthouse Mission, applies butter to rolls Wednesday that will be served at today’s Thanksgiving dinner at the Lighthouse Mission. This is the eighth annual Thanksgiving dinner for the community and meals will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Benna Sayyed

The Lighthouse Mission in Clovis and Portales Community Outreach are offering free Thanksgiving meals today.

According to Lighthouse Mission Executive Director Richard Gomez, the Mission is cooking 40 turkeys this holiday. He said more than 500 slices of pumpkin pie will be on the dessert table.

“We focus on feeding the people; we make sure they have a place to come have a traditional Thanksgiving meal like everybody else,” Gomez said.

“A lot of people say the food here is like a five-star restaurant. It’s homemade and people really enjoy it. We have not had any complaints.”

According to Gomez, all leftovers will be used to feed occupants of the Mission’s homeless shelters either in an evening meal or as sandwiches the next day. He said nothing goes to waste.

Individuals and groups from around the community donated all food items. Lighthouse Mission cooks are preparing the banquet. Volunteers are arranging all other parts of the feast.

“A lot of people who come down for the meal are Clovis residents. Right now we have 23 people staying in our homeless shelter. They’ll all be there with their children,” Gomez said.

“We have families that just can’t afford to buy a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We get a lot of people who are just lonely, that don’t have anybody to spend Thanksgiving with.”

Lighthouse Mission has provided Thanksgiving meals for eight years.

Gomez said the Thanksgiving crowd does not seem to vary in size year by year but seems to have different people in attendance.

At Portales Community Outreach in Portales, volunteer Joe Parie estimates between 70 to 80 pies and cakes will be served today He said between 400 and 500 individuals from surrounding areas, including Farwell and Muleshoe, will attend the Thanksgiving dinner, which is in its ninth year.

According to Parie, all leftovers will be taken to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to feed inmates in prison, jail and people at the soup kitchens and street ministries. He expects lots of turnout from Cannon Air Force Base and Eastern New Mexico University.

“This is a community thing. All the prayers and blessings that come upon us are really phenomenal. If we ever quit this the donors are the ones who would miss it most,” Parie said.

Parie said the banquet provides a fine meeting place not only to people in need but also others who want to socialize and may not have friends or relatives in the area.