, Muskogee, OK

November 18, 2013

Free Thanksgiving feast Sunday

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Volunteers and a barbecue restaurant are preparing to feed 1,000 people Sunday at a Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

The free feast will begin at noon at Muskogee Civic Center.

“The purpose is to reach out to the community,” said John Overton, the pastor of New Hope Assembly of God. “We want to send a message that the faith-based community cares. It’s really just to build the community, for reaching out to people.”

New Hope is one of the feast’s main sponsors. Others include Runt’s Bar-B-Q and Grill, the Muskogee Phoenix and Eyecare of Muskogee.

Associate pastor Monte Humphrey said the idea for the feast came after church members helped with a community Thanksgiving Day dinner at Runt’s.

“We probably served about 500 to 600 people,” Humphrey said. “This kind of transpired that this was something we could do as a church.”

He said 1,000 meal tickets will be handed out Sunday.

Runt’s will provide and cook ham, turkey, giblet gravy and rolls, Humphrey said. “Oktaha High School is allowing us to use its cafeteria Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

Church members are preparing other fixings, he said. “One lady is actually making all the desserts.”

Dianna Lackey, a New Hope member for eight years, said she plans to make 1,000 servings of dessert.

“I lost my husband two and a half months ago, and the church has been so good with an outpouring of love,” she said. “I’m doing this to show I love them.”

Lackey said she plans to start preparing cakes, pumpkin pies, coconut pies and chocolate delight on Friday.

She said she’s used to cooking for crowds, including fish fries at the church. She said she and her husband, Robert Lackey, operated Gamble’s Restaurant on South York Street for several years.

Humphrey said 200 people from the church have volunteered to serve on Sunday. Others also have volunteered to help, he said, adding that Sadler Paper will supply paper goods for the dinner.

Runt’s owner, Russell Pratt, said the restaurant is smoking the ham and turkey. He said Runt’s also is preparing to feed people on Thanksgiving Day.

“I’ve never had to go without,” Pratt said. “I just want to give back. So many people in the community don’t have anything.”

Humphrey said he expects Sunday’s feast to last about two and a half hours. He said the response has been inspiring.

“We’re already planning a feast for next year,” he said. “My hope is to eventually feed 5,000.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

If you go

WHAT: Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

WHEN: Noon Sunday.

WHERE: Muskogee Civic Center.