Adopt-A-Turkey program helps feed the needy

COLUMBIA – Would you like to do something for mankind, though you’re not quite in a position to adopt an orphan just now? Try adopting a turkey in the meantime.

Robert Keeder offers the perfect turkeys. His come plucked and cleaned, ready to be seasoned, stuffed and roasted, and they feed hungry people on Thanksgiving Day.

Keeder is the founder of the annual Thanksgiving dinner sponsored by his parish, St. Peter Church, and First Baptist Church. For the past 10 years, volunteers have put on a massive holiday feed at the Columbia Coliseum. It has become a traditional and concrete way for volunteers to give thanks for their own blessings by helping others.

Originally designed to assist street people on a day when everyone else is feasting with his or her family, the dinner has evolved into its own version of a family get-together. Homeless people, welfare families, the working poor, the elderly and even a few college kids who can’t get home for the long weekend come to dine with each other. And they dine in style.

Restaurants and bakeries donate food, chefs and waiters cook and serve, entertainers sing and play music and volunteers color and play games with children. Volunteers also deliver dinners to shut-ins, the elderly in nursing homes and others who cannot make it to the coliseum.

Last year, to accommodate people who want to help but cannot physically volunteer, the committee initiated the Adopt-A-Turkey Program. By sending $10 to St. Peter, donors pay for a turkey that will be cooked by volunteers to serve the hungry.

“This year I’ve committed to Wal-Mart for 500 frozen turkeys. It’ll take me two or three trips to pick them up,” Keeder said. “We pray that the good people who are our neighbors in Christ will pay for them for us.”

To adopt a turkey send a check to: St. Peter Church, Attn. Adopt-A-Turkey, P.O. Box 1896, Columbia 29202.