Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.
This adage applies to many St. Francois County residents who plan to serve others for Thanksgiving 2023.
The Jackson family said Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what they already have.
“We have been blessed with good health and the ability to keep our bellies full year-round,” said Lindsay Jackson. “There is no better way to show our thanks by ensuring that everyone in our community has a happy and healthy Thanksgiving as well.”
This is the first year for the Jackson family to serve others on Thanksgiving. They’ll be delivering meals to families in the West County School District through Shared Blessing’s Thanksgiving Feast.
Matt Jackson said people “get wrapped up in the fun of the holiday season right from the start of Halloween, and we often forget that this time of year can be especially hard for people for several reasons.”
“I think the whole idea behind Thanksgiving isn’t necessarily about getting together with close family and watching football,” he said. “Instead, I think it’s about building community with those around us.”
Matt said when his wife Lindsay and daughter Lauren brought the idea up of their family helping this Thanksgiving, the decision was “a no-brainer.”
Lindsay said Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, and she loves spending it with her family and enjoying a wonderful meal. But she wants as many families as possible to have that experience.
“When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of my family,” she said, “some who aren’t with us anymore and the good times we have shared over the years.”
Matt and Lindsay’s daughter Lauren said she wants to make sure that everyone in the community gets to enjoy a delicious meal this Thanksgiving, and this is her family’s way of helping to do that.
Lindsay added that Lauren is always looking for ways to serve the community.
“When I heard about this project, I knew we had to do our part to help out,” she said.
Stephanie Roesslein, originally from St. Louis, lives in Pacific. She has worked for C.Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Homes since 2017.
She is passionate about helping families in more than one way.
She and her husband, Tom and niece, Isabella, have volunteered to serve meals on Thanksgiving Day and Friday for the past five years.
“We really enjoy being around such great people and doing good things,” she said.
Roesslein has cooked, served and delivered meals.
“It’s incredible to see such an amazing community come together to help others,” she said.
She encouraged others to help.
“You should come,” she said. “I promise you will have your faith in people restored.”
Farmington resident Ursula Warren firmly believes “that we are blessed to be a blessing.”
“I am fortunate that I have more than enough food to eat and family and friends to enjoy it with,” she said.
As Farmington Senior Center director, Warren has a front-row seat to these kinds of needs within the community.
“Spending holidays serving food to others is actually the best part of holidays for me and my husband Steve,” Warren said. “We love being a part of a community that takes care of one another.”
This is the third year Warren has been involved in Shared Blessings’ Thanksgiving Feast. For the last two years, the Warrens donated food and cooked turkeys. This year, they are working as delivery drivers.
“We are so excited to share Thanksgiving with our community,” she said. “This is a time to give and a time to receive. I believe it is my time to give. I know my time will come to receive. I thank God for giving me the time to give.”
Pastors Jerry and Laura Harris and their congregation of New Day Church in Desloge are participating in Shared Blessings’ Thanksgiving Feast for the first time as a host church. They will deliver meals and be a place where people can enjoy meals on-site or for pickup.
“We have a love for serving others, and we know that the need is great for all of us in our community,” said Laura, “a need to have our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being met. We hope to be able to fill some of those needs for each person who will be getting these wonderful meals and for those who have sacrificed their time and resources to come alongside other ministries who make this happen each year.”
Laura said what brings the most joy to their hearts is “the relationships we are able to form as we serve our community, the City of Desloge.”
Bonne Terre resident Mitzi Warren has helped with Shared Blessings’ Thanksgiving Feast for about eight years.
“Serving the community is extremely important to me,” she said. “The feast is something I could also get my kids (and now grandkids) involved with, as I want them to learn the importance of helping.”
Shared Blessings’ annual Thanksgiving Feast takes place Nov. 23, 24 and 25 and feeds St. Francois County residents. The hot lunch is free and can be delivered to residents’ homes.
Volunteers are still needed to help prepare and deliver the meals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In addition, turkeys are needed.
To reserve a meal, donate food or volunteer, call 573-952-0363 or email ThanksgivingFeast@yahoo.com. More information may be found on the organization’s Facebook page, Thanksgiving Feast.
Pam Clifton is a contributing writer for the Daily Journal.