Thanksgiving is anything but a day off for Marvin and Vickie Adcock and their family.

They wouldn’t have it any other way.

St. Anthony’s Hall in Strong City was packed again Thursday, which marked the 11th year the Adcocks have organized and put on a free community Thanksgiving meal.

“We saw how other communities put on a Thanksgiving meal and we thought, ‘We can do that,’” Vickie said. “We knew we had people in the community who had no place to go or couldn’t afford to put on a meal like this, and we have a large family so we were used to hosting a lot of people. We just decided to invite anybody that wanted to come. It’s grown every year.”

Feeding Chase County on Thanksgiving is no small undertaking; the whole family pitches in. Siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and everyone else make the trek to Strong City to help the Adcocks. It takes the entire family, as some help serve food, others work in the kitchen and the younger generations go around filling drinks, clearing tables and making sure everyone has what they need.

Vickie said every year it is fun for them to get together and put on the meal as a family, but also to reconnect with and get to know members of the community.

And, of course, they still get to feast.

“At 1 o’clock when everyone leaves, we’ll sit down and eat as a family,” Vickie said.

It isn’t only on Thanksgiving Day that the group works to feed the community, either. Vickie said this year they cooked 80 pounds of turkey, 60 pounds of ham, 50 pounds of potatoes, 45 pounds of sweet potatoes along with green bean casserole, corn, rolls and 23 pies. The food preparation begins on Wednesday and, on the big day, she said they’re up at 4 a.m. to get hams in the oven.

She did say, however, that none of it would be possible without the support of the community.

“They support us with donations,” Vickie said. “That way we don’t have to ask for anything when we have our dinner.”

There have also been plenty of learning opportunities over the years. The meal started as a family-style dinner, but the amount of guests made that inefficient. Since, they’ve filled St. Anthony’s Hall with decorated tables and the meals are served buffet-style.

Vickie said they have even been thrown a curveball or two over the years. The first time they organized the community meal, an incident in downtown Strong City left their venue without running water.

“We were out buying bottled water wherever we could find it,” she said. “I had to wonder if maybe that was God telling us not to do this. Thank goodness the water came back on and we didn’t have any major problems.”

She said the couple’s home church, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Strong City, has also been supportive over the years. As such, this year’s meal also featured a free-will donation from which the proceeds will go toward the new community hall being built next to the current building.

Even though most of the faces one would find at the meal are those of the Adcocks and their relatives, Vickie is quick to point out that such an undertaking does not get done without a great deal of support from the community.

“My goal has always been that, by the time it’s time for us to sit down and eat, we’ll run out of food,” Vickie laughed. “My family always says, ‘No. We need to eat, too.

“We couldn’t do this if people didn’t show up. I’m always worried that no one is going to come, but they haven’t disappointed me yet.”

Spending time with her family — whether immediate, extended or not-by-blood — is what Thanksgiving is all about. Vickie Adcock said that, despite all of the work, she and Marvin go home with smiles on their faces at the end of the day.

“People always thank us for taking time away from our family, but to me, this is our family — our community,” she said. “It does my heart good.”

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