A great evening with CASY: Annual Thanksgiving meal a treat for guests, staff

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. GarzaAll the fixings: Connie Church, 6, keeps an eye on her sister Jasmine’s plate as Chances And Services for Youth staff member Maddi Elliott dishes out a helping of corn during the CASY Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.

TERRE HAUTE — Christmas stepped aside briefly, as it was Thanksgiving’s turn to come early this year when Chances And Services for Youth offered its annual meal Tuesday evening at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.

About 250 people feasted on their choice of turkey, ham, dumplings, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, fruit salad and rolls prepared by CASY’s staff.

A great evening with CASY: Annual Thanksgiving meal a treat for guests, staff

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. GarzaThanksgiving in a box: Chances And Services for Youth staff member Sarah Knoblock hands a meal-to-go to Anthony Espinoza as Anthony’s mom, Anna Ortiz, looks on during the CASY Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.

J. Ford’s Black Angus, CASY’s Thanksgiving meal financial donor for the past decade, contributed $1,000 to the effort.

“For most of my staff, we’re blessed to have what we have,” said Brandon Halleck, CASY’s chief executive officer. “And it’s an opportunity to give back to those who may not have as much. And what better time to gather and mingle and do that but during the holiday season. It’s heartwarming for the staff.”

He added, “Everybody has always been so grateful, so thankful for this.”

The community center now boasts a full industrial kitchen a substantial turnaround from its early days, when only two of the three ovens worked (which wasn’t discovered until workers noticed the turkeys weren’t getting warm).

And having a sit-down meal was a lot more gratifying than last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced CASY to just operate a drive-through — they ran out of food in half an hour.

Sarah Knoblock, who has worked at CASY as Vigo County’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coordinator for the past two years, said dining together at tables is far preferable to the drive-through.

“I think people in the community like having that connection — eating in person and getting to share a meal together than just hurry through a line,” Knoblock said.

A great evening with CASY: Annual Thanksgiving meal a treat for guests, staff

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. GarzaDon’t forget the green beans: Volunteer Renee Zigler places a serving of green beans onto a recipient’s plate during the CASY Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday at the Booker T. Washington Community Center. At right is Chad Zigler.

“Especially this time of year, being able to interact with others and have a meal together is super-important,” agreed Maddi Elliott, who has just started as a community help worker with Healthy Start. “I’m super-excited to be a part of it this year.”

Renee Zigler, a student at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, and her husband Chad, an engineer at Rolls Royce in Indianapolis, had volunteered to help fill people’s plates with the tasty fare.

“Coming out of COVID and all of the shut-downs and stay-at-home orders, it’s important to me to be out in the community and share what we have and spend time with each other,” Renee said.

Chad added, “Being able to give back — we take for granted a lot of times the things that we have, and there are a lot of people who can’t do that. It makes a big difference in the community.”

Kandace Brown, of CASY’s Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, was enjoying a meal with her little sister, 11-year-old fifth grader Rhianna.

“I love this organization, I love all the programs they run, but Big Brothers/Big Sisters is especially close to my heart, because what we do and the relationship Rhianna and I have,” Brown said. “I have loved watching her grow up since first grade. We have a lot of fun together — we try to do neat things on top of schoolwork. The program is really impactful in helping kids have some mentoring services.”

Rhianna’s favorite menu item was the corn.

“It’s a fun night out,” Brown said.

Halleck summed the evening up: “We give back almost all the time with the work we do on a general basis, but this is a way to interact on a different level, and that’s what we like to do.”

David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at david.kronke@tribstar.com

React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0

Locations

Trending Video

Recommended for you