SIKESTON -- Beverly Baker and her Thanksgiving Day feast are back by popular demand.
Following a two-year absence, the Sikeston resident has decided to once again offer a warm meal for local senior citizens on Thanksgiving Day.
"I knew that I was through (when I stopped the meal)," Baker said. "And then I didn't do it, and there were all these people that called me through the holiday season the first year. Then I had more people call me the second year. It wasn't easy and they kept calling. It really bothered me. So I decided to do it again."
For 13 years, Baker served a free meal to needy senior citizens in the area. For the first few years Baker, her husband, daughter and son began serving the meal right out of Baker's kitchen and fed nearly 80 senior citizens. The meal then moved to Concordia Lutheran Church and later to Mission Missouri, where Baker called it quits in 2001 when she was providing meals for nearly 400 people.
This year meals will be offered at no charge from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on North Main Street in Sikeston.
Baker describes the meal as a "big potluck" and notes that she doesn't take cash donations, but rather gift certificates from Sikeston Market Place and Wal-Mart to purchase the food for the meal.
And volunteers are always welcome, Baker said.
"I had a woman who was divorced, and it was her kids turn to be with their father for the holiday, and she told me last year was horrible because she didn't have anywhere to help. So she went somewhere in Cape Girardeau to volunteer, and they told her they didn't need any help," Baker said in disbelief.
But Baker's philosophy is "the more the merrier."
"The more people you have, the quicker everything gets done and people get served," Baker theorized.
Baker said she and volunteers begin preparing the meal the day before Thanksgiving.
"I wouldn't freeze my Thanksgiving dinner ahead of time so I don't freeze theirs," Baker said. "We do just do what we've got to do."
Anyone who needs a ride or meal delivered can call Baker in advance. Nothing has changed since the last meals; the format is still the same, she said. Baker said she's just happy to be helping the community again.
"It took a long time to get their trust, and I appreciate that," Baker said. "I really, really appreciate them for trusting me this way."
For more information or to offer assistance, call 472-4351, 382-3679 or 471-8697.