OPELOUSAS, La. — The annual Opelousas community Thanksgiving meal looked different this year, but the intent behind it hasn't changed.
"Today unlike other years, we're still having a Thanksgiving dinner, but this year it's going to be walk-up, drive up," said Toni Effingger. "We prefer to serve them and fellowship and talk to them, because a lot of people don't have anyone to have Thanksgiving with, but unfortunately we have to do it a little differently this year."
This is the fourth year Toni Effingger and her husband, Joe, have fed the community. They've teamed up with Mayor Julius Alsandor, who also was feeding the community on Thanksgiving, so they can reach more people, she said.
It's not just about the food, Joe Effingger says.
"This is open to anyone. It's not set up for any particular group, it's set up for everyone. At one time, I was one of those people who ate thanksgiving at McDonald's or Burger King. When this was put together, it was put together so those individuals didn't have to eat dinner alone, they could come out and eat dinner with someone and enjoy the day with someone."
This year's event was held at Opelousas Middle School, where meals were handed out to folks who drove by or walked up to get their plates to-go.
Even though the usual fellowship wasn't possible, this event was even more important this year, Alsandor says.
"Think about the times we're having to go through. Everybody's going through struggles with the pandemic and the economy. But at the same time, the most important part is that there are people who don't have this type of fellowship, this type of meal. And for them to come out here today and get a freshly cooked meal, they're going to leave here feeling good, but also feeling that they're a part of this community," he said. "We feel this is the time for us to give back. It's a time for sharing, it's the spirit of giving and we're all gladly doing this."
There also were door prizes, like gift cards for food, that were handed out.
The members of the committee are: Opelousas Police Chief Martin Mclendon, Alsandor, the Effinggers, Marian Gallien, Doretha & Ceasar Veazie, State Representative Dustin Miller, Albert Semien and Theresa White.