MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) — After the Memphis Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless was nearly cancelled, its new organizers are making progress putting it back together.
This year’s meal is being rebranded as “memFEAST” and is being organized by chocolatier Phillip Ashley Rix and Brian Harris with the help of many local organizations and businesses.
Ashley Rix said within days of announcing they were taking over the Thanksgiving meal, they were able to acquire nearly all the food they needed to feed 1,000 people.
Union Row is donating 100 turkeys. Feed The Needy is donating 60 more. Bosco’s is taking care of the green beans and Nothing Bundt Cakes is donating all the pound cakes. Monogram Foods donated 50 pounds of Circle B sausage. Those were just a few of the examples Ashley Rix listed off.
All the food will be prepared at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and then transported to the dinner location at the Civic Center Plaza in downtown Memphis.
Ashley Rix said while most of the food is accounted for, the planning progress is focused now on logistics of hosting the event.
They plan to set up tents at the plaza and play a movie.
They’re anticipating the meal to have the most food yet and add other services for people in need. There will be heath and dental clinics to “feed” people on multiple levels, Ashley Rix said.
“We didn’t want to just say, here’s a plate of food. See you later.’ This is really a concerted effort to say, ‘look its thanksgiving those without a home we want to make you feel at home during these several hours,’” Ashley Rix said.
Neighborhood Christian Centers has also teamed up to help with memFEAST. With the cold weather already hitting the city, they’ll be making and providing winter care packages for the guests.
Ephie Johnson, President and CEO of Neighborhood Christian Centers, says the center is still in need of donations of hats, gloves and socks. She said they stepped up as soon as they heard the news that the dinner was initially cancelled.
“Where else to serve but when our city needs us. The homeless need us. People that are in destitute situations need us. We want to respond to situations like that as we can,” Johnson said.
Currently, all of the volunteer positions have been filled. Ashley Rix said they were filled quickly and people are still reaching out asking how they can help.
“This is one of the big things Memphis is known for. For all of the things that is said about the city, that the biggest thing, one of the main things, is that we have a heart for giving,” Ashley Rix said. Donations can be made online here.
Anyone wanting to donate via check, can make it out to Living Grace, Inc. Living Grace, Inc. founder, Sheleah Harris, is also key in coordinating the logistics for all care packages. Living Grace focuses on supporting and serving homeless youth.
Neighborhood Christian Centers is also looking for volunteers to help them put the care packages together on Nov. 20th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at their North Center location at 785 Jackson Ave.
Donations for hats, gloves and socks can be dropped off at that same location or at the Scott Street location.