MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 16, 2012

Runt’s owner lives a dream

He says he’s wanted to give free meals on Thanksgiving for years

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Five area community Thanksgiving dinners offer cheer to those who may have fallen on hard times this holiday season.

Russell Pratt, owner of Runt’s BBQ, has dreamed for years of giving away a Thanksgiving dinner. Pratt will offer a slew of turkey, ham and dressing for those in need on Thanksgiving Day.

“My wife and I have always wanted to do this so we’re opening the doors Thanksgiving Day and giving a free meal to the needy,” he said. “It’s a blessing for me to do this — I get to spend a lot of time with my family and we’ll do something at my mom and dad’s later that evening. But this is just something that I feel I’ve been pointed that direction.”

Pratt said he doesn’t know if he’ll serve five or 500, but he’s had lots of people calling to volunteer and churches making donations.

“It’s one of those hit-and-misses — we may serve a lot or we may be eating good for a couple days,” he said. “We’ll be bringing their meal right to their table, no waiting in line or serving themselves. And we’ll have pecan pie and pumpkin pie for sure.”

Pratt said if the place is packed, not a seat in the house, he’ll box up a good meal for anyone who wants to take it home to enjoy, too.

“I’m having fun with it — I’ve always wanted to do this,” he said.

The Salvation Army won’t hold its annual Thanksgiving Dinner, said Capt. Ben Walters — but is supportive of Pratt’s big plans.

“Russell is a new advisory board member, and his meal is not a Salvation Army event,” Walters said. “But with him doing this — well, you know I would choose Runt’s BBQ — so it might not be a good use of our resources to hold a big dinner, too.”

The Gospel Rescue Mission will hold its dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. All are welcome, said Director Jack Murr.

“Anyone that wants to come down and volunteer is welcome,” Murr said. “Some people bring desserts and so on, too — it works out pretty well that way.”

New Life Center, Ark of Faith and St. Paul United Methodist Church also will also hold dinners on Thursday.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton

@muskogeephoenix.com.

Free dinners

The following are offering free Thanksgiving dinners:

• Ark of Faith, 401 E. Broadway — noon to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, (918) 682-8411.

• New Life Center, 4025 Gibson St., Gibson Street and Muskogee Turnpike — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, transportation available from Lakeland Shopping Center to the church, (918) 681-4027.

• Gospel Rescue Mission, 326 S. Second St. — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, volunteers also welcome, (918) 682-3489.

• St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2130 W. Okmulgee Ave. — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in the activity center, (918) 687-7571.

• Runt’s BBQ, 3003 W. Okmulgee Ave. — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, (918) 681-3900.