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What's it take for a community Thanksgiving? Volunteers set table for meal

Jessica Fuller • Nov 24, 2017 at 12:06 AM

For his Thanksgiving afternoon, 7-year-old Myles Booker stood outside the Haven of Mercy with his father and handed out drinks to those who came by for a meal.

Myles and his father, Carl, came to the Haven last year for the first time to volunteer on Thanksgiving. They returned this year, Booker said, to teach Myles about helping his community by giving his time to those who aren’t as fortunate.

“I like (volunteering) because I get to help my country and my community and I get to serve God,” Myles said.

This year, Carl and Myles were among about 200 volunteers who worked since Friday night cooking around the clock to prepare 185 turkeys, 65 hams and heaps of side dishes like green beans and mashed potatoes to bring a Thanksgiving meal to more than 3,000 people who may not otherwise have anything to eat that day.

Mark Fulwiler, a veteran, said he’d never been to the meal before. Fulwiler, who also goes by ‘No Toes,’ had both of his feet amputated and has no place to live. He said he was in search of his sister, who he hasn’t seen for several years.

The Haven has been serving Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with the help of volunteers and donations for more than 40 years. With no state or federal funding, Grant Rockley, chief operating director of the shelter, said churches and individual donors supply all of the food for both holidays. 

But it’s much more than supplying a meal, Rockly said.

“It’s all about something else — it’s about fellowship and connection,” he said. “I’ve known a lot of these people for years and years and years, and that’s both good and bad. We’re so appreciative of the public’s support, people donate online, they donate here, all day long they come here and drop something off.”

The Haven of Mercy operates two homeless shelters and two thrift stores in Johnson City, donations are accepted online at www.havenofmercy.net, mail them to P.O. Box 5490, Johnson City, TN 37602 or call the ministry at 929-0616.

Email Jessica Fuller at jfuller@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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