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Preparations underway for Livingston Thanksgiving dinner

This week finds Joe Livingston and his planning committee, headed by Ward Cole and Greg Burch hard at work taking care of final arrangements for the annual Mayo Livingston Thanksgiving Dinner.

The late Mayo Livingston began the tradition in the late 1980’s when he sat at his own table and realized there were many individuals and families who were not as fortunate to have a great meal and be surrounded by family and friends.

The following year he took steps to remedy the situation. He called on the folks at Winn Dixie to prepare turkey dinners that were assembled by Methodist Church members and delivered to some folks that had been identified as shut-ins, or those without adequate food to enjoy a feast.

Each year the list of those in need has grown and more volunteers have stepped up to fill the average of 400-450 plates for delivery by a group of drivers.

The names come from several sources, according to Joe. Stephanie Poitivent, of the Decatur County School system coordinates names of students, referrals also come from the Salvation Army, several churches, BAIN, as well as phone calls from individuals; and with all the problems of COVID-19 and related unemployment this year, the numbers of people in need have increased.

To be sure, there are many agencies, churches and organizations working food drives to help fill these needs; but the Livingston Dinner seems to live on, filling special needs.

Last year a Livingston Thanksgiving Foundation was formed to allow financial donations to help offset the costs, and Joe says this year he is very pleased with the results.

Winn-Dixie continues to be the food source – both in purchase and preparation, Under the direction of Katina Ward and Yvette Beasley, the employees cook all night to get the turkey, dressing and trimmings ready for early delivery to the church.

Volunteers arrive at the First Methodist J.O. Smith building at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning to get the plates ready for delivery. They have it down to a system, so that by 9:30 a.m. they are done and ready to go home to their own meal preparations.

One change for this year is that people on the list of receivers may call in and request a drive-up pickup. They must call the Methodist Church (246-1864) now, the sooner the better, in order to make those arrangements. They must not wait until Thanksgiving Day.

Through the years, Mayo made it to the church to oversee the project. Sadly, this will be the first year without him as he passed away September 14. But his memory and caring generosity live on in the minds and hearts of those who continue to serve in his memory.