Taking time for feasts, friends and family

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By Sarah Bennett

Eleven-year-old Skye Llyless lifted a forkful of mashed potatoes to her mouth Thursday at the former St. James Catholic Church school building on North Miles Street.


Asked what her favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is, the West Hardin Middle School student smiled before answering, “I like it all.”

Skye’s mother, Melissa Llyless, said the Elizabethtown family learned of the annual Thanksgiving dinner at St. James through the middle school’s family resource center.

Without family in the Hardin County area, Llyless said she and her young daughters were searching for somewhere to share a Thanksgiving meal.

Patti Stith has served as volunteer coordinator for the dinner at St. James for 10 years, she said.

Since 1986, the Elizabethtown Catholic church has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in conjunction with other area churches and organizations such as Helping Hand of Hope, she said.

This year, volunteers delivered meals to 395 homes and served 105 at the school, Stith said. The left over food will be donated to Warm Blessings.

“It never goes to waste,” she said.

Preparing, delivering and serving Thanksgiving dinners at St. James are more than 100 volunteers, Stith said. They began preparation at 5 p.m. Wednesday and arrived as early as 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

Elizabethtown resident Mardee Hoggard has volunteered at St. James’ dinner for about six years, Hoggard said.

It was an activity Hoggard used to do with her husband many years ago, she said. After he died two years ago, she decided to volunteer again.

“Just to know they’re going to have a nice dinner they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Hoggard said.

This Thanksgiving Hoggard was serving plates, but in years past, she delivered meals with her husband, during which they would stop and visit with those who were lonely and unable to leave their homes.

According to Stith, St. James sees a variety of diners sit down for its free Thanksgiving meal, including the homeless, volunteers and families like the Llylesses who have no one local with whom to share the holiday dinner.

Elizabethtown resident Deanna Vespie enjoys a Thanksgiving meal at St. James every year, she said.

Though the turkey and dressing always are good, Vespie said, she also comes to socialize and to share a meal with others.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.