By JOEY REISTROFFER
SPARTANBURG — Thanksgiving — a time when family and friends get together around a steaming hot turkey meal and thank God for the blessings they have received throughout the year.
Nobody should spend Thanksgiving alone.
That is why the Knights of Columbus held a Thanksgiving feast at St. Paul’s last week and invited everybody in the community who had nowhere to go or no one to spend the holiday with. They invited the elderly, the infirm, the shut-ins and even those who simply cannot cook.
And for all those folks who could not drive to the shindig at St. Paul’s, the Knights volunteered to send drivers out and pick them up.
“We have been doing this for 25 years,” said Craig Orme, a Knight who helped organize the festivities.
Orme added that he had no problem finding volunteers. “They want to help,” he said. “They like to help.”
Bob Fay, another Knight, was in charge of organizing all the drivers. Fay said he sent invitations to the Council on Aging and retirement homes. He said he even recruited some drives from Mobile Meals, and asked them if they knew about anybody along their normal routes who wanted to join the party. Fay and his taxi service brought in about 120 people. Some were stooped by age. Some walked with canes. Some came in on walkers, while others used wheelchairs.
One woman said she was just glad to have somebody to talk to.
And that means a lot to the Knights. This year they had a host of people pitching in. Radio personality Bill Drake was the master of ceremonies. He said he has been the emcee for two decades and enjoys participating every year.
“I used to do a full-blown program (in the early years),” Drake said. “Then I realized that they are really more interested in the bingo game.”
So now Drake plays up his role as the bingo caller. He, however, still sings “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for the crowd. That is part of the tradition at the event.
Then, to add a splash of autumn color, the students at Boiling Springs Elementary School put their creative talents together and drew each person a Thanksgiving placemat.
Tim Holmes, the owner of Mimi’s deli, also added a personal touch. He got up at 3 a.m. to start cooking, said Jerry Mas, a Knight who was working in St. Paul’s kitchen.
Mas said the Knights were serving turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, string beans, cranberries and an assortment of cakes and pies for dessert.
He put things in perspective when he said: “It’s hard to fix a traditional Thanksgiving meal for one.”
So on this Thanksgiving, the Knights did the cooking. Even Grand Knight Steve Pright took his turn over a hot stove. “Today I’m just a cook,” he said.
As the bingo game wound down, it was time to serve the turkey. All of the guests sat at their tables and were served by the volunteers. The meal was also served on real plates with silverware.
And when the guests got ready to leave, the Knights packed them a hot meal to go.
On a day that Mayor James Talley proclaimed Knights of Columbus Day in Spartanburg for all their charitable work over the past 25 years, the group showed their generous style to the community.