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Bringing community to Thanksgiving dinner: Wesley United holiday meal will be to-go only; volunteers, food donations needed

Around 14 years ago, Morgantown resident Karen King and local volunteers started a free Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who wanted a different kind of Thanksgiving – a community Thanksgiving. 

“A lot of people didn’t think it was doable,” said King, who is the event coordinator.  The first year they served 29 meals.  Since then, the event has grown exponentially.  “In 2019, we served 759 meals so it is doable, but we do need the community to help.”

This year, King and company hope to serve over 1,000 free meals to members of the community on Thanksgiving Day. 

As the number of meals has grown, so has the list of volunteers.  “People don’t just volunteer on Thanksgiving Day,” King said.  “They can volunteer throughout the week helping us cook, helping us get ready, helping with the prep work and the set up.”

In the past, those in need of a meal were able to eat together at Wesley United Methodist Church or get meals to take home.  This year, due to COVID, there will not be a dine-in option and all meals will be served to-go.  Elderly and homebound residents, along with groups like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, can also request delivery.

The meal will consist of traditional items including turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn, green beans and dessert.  Anyone who would like to receive meals needs to call ahead and register.  “If they want a take out [meal] they need to call the church at 304-292-9485 by 3 p.m. the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” said King.  “If they don’t call and they come for a take out they will have to wait until everybody else gets their order.” 

The event relies on the kindness of local sponsors and donations from the community to provide the meals for free.  According to King, Chili’s Grill and Bar is their biggest sponsor. They provide a lot of the ingredients and provide the paper products that are needed. Chili’s is also doing a fundraiser until the day before Thanksgiving and a percentage will be donated to the event.

King says they are also still in need of other donations.  “We are looking for anybody who wants to give a turkey,” she said.  “Even a can of sweet potatoes, a can of yams, that helps. Anything that people can give.  We also need pies!  We try to give a piece of pie to everybody.  We are always desperate for those kinds of things.”

People who have registered can come pick up their meals between 11a.m.-1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  Meals can be picked up at Wesley United Methodist Church at 503 N. High St. in Morgantown.  King hopes to start the deliveries around 10:30 a.m. 

If you would like to register to receive a meal, sign up to donate or volunteer you can do so by calling the church at 304-292-9485 or emailing them at

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