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The spirit of giving

Between cooking the turkey and getting place settings together, preparing for Thanksgiving dinner can be quite hectic.

Imagine cooking 500 pounds of turkey for approximately 450 people. That's what the Ironton City Welfare Mission is doing.

"Anyone who comes can eat," the Rev. James Cremeans said.

For 58 years, the mission has served Thanksgiving dinners for many people. Cremeans said he did not know how many would possibly show up this year, but last year, 453 people were served.

The mission will start serving food at noon and will continue to serve food until people stop coming.

Not many of those who dine at the mission are homeless, but approximately one-third are children.

"They are perfect little gentlemen and ladies," Cremeans said. "They appreciate the dinner and they enjoy it very much."

Also, Cremeans and his family always have their own Thanksgiving dinner at the mission.

"The children help us prepare the meals and we celebrate here," Cremeans' wife, Mary, said. "This is our 36th year doing this.

"The crowds have grown over the years. They're thankful that there's a place in Ironton where they can get a meal."

Not all of those who visit the mission on Thanksgiving eat the meals there, either. The Rev. and Mrs. Cremeans both said that some pick up their meals and bring them home and some are unable to leave their homes. Those meals are delivered by volunteers.

Between 30 and 40 of those volunteers are members of the mission's church. More are expected.

Many other churches in the county will be having free Thanksgiving dinners or have distributed food to needy families.

Members of South Point United Methodist Church distributed 25 food baskets, the Rev. Pete Shaffer said. Some of the items in those baskets were collected by Boy and Cub Scout troops as a part of their program, Scouting for Food. The scouts collected approximately 1,100 non-perishable items.

"I appreciate the help the scouts have given us over the years," Shaffer said. "We've had a combined effort with them and members of the church and it's a blessing. It helps a lot of families."

Also, students at Ironton Junior High School recently collected 2,919 cans of food for the Church of Christ food pantry.

"We have a great community that helps make this possible," the Rev. Cremeans said. "For 58 years, they've been good to the mission."

"We have fun and fellowship and it's a good time to visit," Mrs. Cremeans said. "It's a lot of work, but it's fun work."