This Thanksgiving, the kindness of a neighbor or even a stranger will be foremost in the minds of the hundreds hosted for dinner by Delores Alston.
Alston has held a free Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, ham, all the fixings, and dessert, for 25 years at the Oak Hill Community Center in Wagram. This year’s dinner will be held from 12:30-5 p.m. on Thursday, and Alston has pledged to serve everyone that shows up.
“With the economy, I’m expecting a very big crowd,” she said. “They know they can eat all they want and take a plate home. I just want everybody to feel welcome about coming.”
In recent years, some 350 people have eaten their Thanksgiving meal with Alston, but she is well-prepared for more. “One year when I had 500 or so I had half a turkey left,” said Alston, who welcomes guests of every race, religion, and economic situation. “People have told me that they’re coming; whenever I go to town, they say, hey Thanksgiving lady, I’ll be there.”
The Oak Hill Community Center is located at 30361 North Turnpike Road in Wagram. From Laurinburg, take 15-501 North, take a right on Arch McLean Road, then an immediate left on Turnpike Road. The Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church will be on the left six miles down the road, and dinner will be served in the smaller community building next to the church.
Several local businesses have donated food item, and Alston has received monetary support from other individuals. “it’s going really good; I’ve had a lot of help from stores and small cash donations,” said Alston. “We’ve had some good donations of other things too. I’d like to thank everyone who has donated, who was concerned, or said a prayer.”
The cooking, on the other hand, is the sole domain of Alston and her mother, taken as seriously as greeting each and every hungry soul on Thanksgiving Day.
“I will see everybody - I don’t care, I’ll go around and shake everyone’s hand, I want them to feel important,” Alston said. “I look forward to the fellowship and seeing everyone, even if they just stop by to say hi.”