Cooking dinner for Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Dave McDonald, Sheila Leonard and Hank Arsenault work toward distribution of turkeys.

Turkeys distributed Sunday at a Lewisburg church are being cooked today and de-boned Thursday morning for delivery with a Thanksgiving dinner for nearly 700 people.

"And we want all the turkey back but the gobble," says Dave McDonald, the top turkey-man at LifeSong Family Church since he's been doing this for nine years at the South Ellington Parkway church.

De-boning is part of an assembly line that McDonald will have ready in the sanctuary on Thanksgiving morning.

No surprise there for McDonald, who turned 50 on Tuesday. He works at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill where he delivers parts to the auto assembly line. Originally from Flint, Mich., McDonald came to Middle Tennessee because of Saturn.

"Last year we did 500 meals," McDonald said. "We were done at 11:30 a.m. - completely done here putting meals together. By 12:30 p.m., they were all distributed."

Distribution is a logistical feat.

"I'm at the mercy of MapQuest," McDonald said.

He provides drivers with directions to the homes where the meals are delivered, and the directions are to include a phone number, he said.

However, many hands make light work and volunteers flocked to the kitchen where the big birds were frozen hard as a rock, but ready to go to a family home.

"Let it thaw," they were told Sunday morning as Pastor Rocky Cunningham spoke on saying thank you.

Boxes of canned beans and other fixin's were ready in the kitchen where Berlin volunteer firefighter Terry Parrish said he, and his wife Terrie, would help cook vegetables.

Terry Parrish works for the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities and he seemed to take some pleasure in saying that he'd help "keep the water hot for the extra potatoes."

McDonald started his Thanksgiving tradition a decade ago with another church that's since faded away. They took food to a place near Pulaski.

"And I said, 'Why are we going to a place in Giles County? There's got to be people who need us in Marshall County,'" McDonald said.

The other church had about 50 members and 15 helped that autumn of 2000.

"You never know how many will show up," he continued. "So many showed up last year... They'd get in line (to help assemble the dinner boxes) and all they could do was three" boxes.

His son, Tyler, and his friends Ryan Parker and Dutch Church, carried boxes of frozen turkeys into the church kitchen. Among the dozens of people picking up turkeys to be cooked for others were Larry Diestelow and his daughter-in-law, Becky Diestelow.

Hank and Karen Arsenault helped with distribution of turkeys Sunday and, earlier, getting the word out to the community. Helping on both fronts was Sheila Leonard.