Nice gesture: Free Thanksgiving meals offer food, fellowship

Two local churches and a Seymour business are organizing free community dinners so no one has to go hungry Thanksgiving Day.

The Alley and On the Rox, both in Seymour and Community Church of Brownstown will be cooking and serving up turkey and all the trimmings.

For several years, On the Rox at 214 S. Broadway St., has sponsored a Thanksgiving meal, but hasn’t done a lot of advertising for it.

“Usually we keep it low key, because we only make so much and it goes pretty quick,” said Bryan Capps, entertainment and promotions manager at the bar and grill.

The meal is buffet style provided by Christopher’s Catering and is available from 7 p.m. to whenever the food is gone Thursday, he said.

There is no cost, because those involved just want to do something nice for others.

“It’s just as a nice gesture for people who may not have friends or family to spend the holiday with,” Capps said. “With all the hate in the world as of late, it’s nice to give a little love when we can.”

The Alley will sponsor an Old Fashion Thanksgiving Dinner at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the church located at 416 E. Second St.

Pastor Rick Wilson also will perform a free country music dinner show as entertainment.

Sara Ellis volunteered at the dinner last year and is now the manger of The Alley Kitchen, which provides a free, hot meal to people daily.

“It was the best, most humbling experience for me,” she said of being a part of last year’s meal. “It just reminded me what Thanksgiving is really about. There was a happiness and joy in people that I don’t think would have been there had we not been open.”

Even after the meal was over, people hung around, singing, dancing and enjoying fellowship with one another, she added.

Ellis said she was amazed at how many people volunteered to help last year and she is hoping for the same this Thursday.

“We have close to 20 volunteers who have signed up already,” she said. “The more the merrier. Even if there isn’t a lot for them to do, they can sit and engage in conversation and start a friendship with someone, and perhaps make that person’s day better.”

All the food that is prepared is donated including several turkeys from the American Legion Men’s Auxiliary.

“And turkey’s have just been showing up here for the last two weeks,” Ellis said. “It’s been awesome to see how kind people can be.”

Volunteers will start cooking at 9 a.m. and serving will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

“Everybody is welcome,” Ellis said. “You don’t have to need a meal, just have a desire to enjoy good food with good people. I’m excited to see so many people come and find out about us and The Alley and what we are about.”

Eight years ago, Community Church of Brownstown started a free community Thanksgiving dinner.

Each year since then, the number of meals served and delivered has increased.

It grew so large that the church joined forces with Michie’s Diner and Brownstown Christian Church.

In 2015, nearly 300 meals were served at the diner, and another 400 were delivered all around Jackson County.

The eighth annual dinner is set for 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, and the goal is to serve 1,000 people.

“Truthfully, it’s all the work of God because he’s the one that has helped us get it going and keeps providing for it and keeps allowing people to be fed,” said Melissa Collins, a member of Community Church of Brownstown who helps organize the dinner.

“There are people out there that go without meals and without food,” she said. “Our goal was to feed them, and hopefully, we can reach out and start feeding the community and allow somebody to have a decent meal for Thanksgiving.”

The dinner will feature turkey, sides and dessert.

People can eat at Michie’s Diner at 216 W. Commerce St., Brownstown, or a new option this year is to pick up a meal through the drive through. Meals also will be delivered anywhere in Jackson County.

As the number of meals served increased in the early years of the dinner, Community Church of Brownstown realized it needed a bigger facility.

That’s when Mike Patton, who was the church’s preacher at the time, opened Michie’s Diner.

“We felt the restaurant was better to prepare everything in,” Collins said.

The number of meals kept increasing, so four years ago, Brownstown Christian Church allowed organizers to use that building as a delivery site.

Since then, people have either gone to the diner to eat or had a meal delivered from the church by volunteers.

Preparation for the dinner always is on the organizers’ minds, Collins said. Donations come rolling in to allow them to buy the food to prepare and serve.

“Donations always come in. The food always comes in. The help comes in. All of the volunteers come in,” she said. “It’s just the grace of God that makes it happen. It’s just amazing how it works.”

If you go

Free Thanksgiving meals

Wednesday: 5 to 8 p.m. at Michie’s Diner, 216 W. Commerce St., Brownstown. There is also drive through service available and meals can be delivered anywhere in Jackson County.

To order a meal, call Melissa Collins at 812-528-1189, Michaela Patton at 812-358-5444 or Mike Patton at 812-498-6304 or email

Thursday: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at The Alley, 416 E. Second St., Seymour.

To volunteer or donate, call Sara Ellis at 812-946-0258.

7 p.m. until food is gone at On The Rox, 214 S. Broadway St.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at or 812-523-7069.