Herb Greenlee wants everyone “to eat ’til they can’t eat anymore” at the 24th annual Carver Recreation Center Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.
“We don’t want anybody to go hungry,” said Greenlee, the center’s supervisor.
The free dinner begins at 6 p.m. and is open to all citizens. Volunteers are baking 12 big turkeys and about 19 area churches are pitching in to provide traditional sides like dressing, corn, green beans, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, breads and delicious desserts like pumpkin and apple pies.
“We open it up to the community, homeless, anybody who wants a good meal that day,” Greenlee said. “We want everybody to come. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, just come.”
No matter how many people show up, Greenlee said there always seems to be enough food and enough volunteers to serve dinner at the center, 322 W. Watauga Ave. About 300-500 people are expected to attend and the Johnson City Parks and Recreation maintenance crew will eat the leftovers Friday.
About 25 volunteers will continue to fill plates until “everyone is fed.”
“People look forward to it,” Greenlee said. “We always try to reach out to people.”
Bringing the public together has been a goal for Greenlee since he began his career at Carver. He’s found that one of the best ways to create community spirit is through food.
“When I first started here in 1987, people weren’t unified,” Greenlee said. “Everyone was doing their own little thing. With the churches, we got everyone involved.”
The Thanksgiving meal takes a lot of preparation, many ingredients and results in a pile of dirty pans, but Greenlee said the reward lies in the appreciation of the eaters.
“That’s what Carver’s made up of,” he said. “It’s more than a recreation center, its a community center. We just want people to utilize our center because that’s what it was built for, not standing and looking pretty.”
For more information about the dinner, call the center at 461-8830.