Thanksgiving 2021

Community Thanksgiving returns to the delight of hundreds
Posted on 11/17/2021
JROTC cadets of PBHS begin to break into a dance as they enjoy their Friday evening at the Community Thanksgiving.

Approximately 850 people were served during the Community Thanksgiving held Friday, Nov. 12, at Poplar Bluff High School.

A longstanding partnership between Chartwells and the R-I school district, the event was reinstated after skipping last year due to the pandemic. Guests received full-course meals prepared by the food service supplier, and entertainment was provided by the Junior and Senior High Jazz Band, directed by music instructor Stephen Winters.

“It’s a chance for folks to come together and see the people behind the school district,” said Dixie Harden, food service director. “We’re just a part of the community on this night.”

Army JROTC instructor Marc Roderick echoed Harden’s sentiment, noting that the cadets who volunteer to help organize the event are instructed to “interact” with the patrons and be a "touchpoint," since "this is our community." The event for the JROTC students is a service-learning project, which entails planning and reflecting on the operation, from directing traffic to cleaning the facility afterward.

The PBHS Student Council hosted a craft activity station for children during the dinner service, accepting donations to supply Christmas presents for families of the Haven House. The Iron Mules Robotics Club also assisted with the dinner service for the first time, helping to pass out soft drinks. Elementary students made special placemats for the tabletops in art class.

“This can be a very rough time of year for some, and this sort of gives people in need something to look forward to and hang onto,” Harden continued. “To a lot of people, it’s just a meal, but many times we don’t look at the long-term effects these little things we do for others have on people.”

A total of 300 pounds of turkey roast was cooked for the occasion, as food service employees divided duties across cafeteria kitchens, preparing sides that included mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, dinner rolls and dessert.

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Cutline: JROTC cadets of PBHS begin to break into a dance as they enjoy their Friday evening at the Community Thanksgiving, sponsored by Chartwells.

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