To many people, Thanksgiving is an excuse to eat, watch football or plan for and begin holiday shopping.
But many Johnson County residents use the day to reflect on their blessings and to help others in need.
For example, this afternoon at the Johnson County fairgrounds, dozens of families will gather for a free holiday meal. For many, this not only will be the big meal of the day, it might even be the only meal today. Others will be there just to celebrate the holiday.
Dozens of other families will receive meals delivered to their homes. Many of these are shut-ins with no transportation.
The effort started in 2008 in the aftermath of the flood that devastated parts of Johnson County. It was meant to be a way to come together and to give communal thanks and celebrate recovery efforts. Since then, it has grown each year.
The meal is open for free to residents looking for a place to gather and also is meant to ensure people and families who would have trouble affording everything that typically goes into Thanksgiving dinner have a nice holiday meal.
If you go
What: Thanksgiving banquet
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today
Where: Scott Hall, Johnson County fairgrounds, Franklin
Contact information: 317-979-2659
How to help
The residents of Richmond Hill have asked that donations be sent to a centralized location instead of various agencies. Here’s how you can help:
Donate online at
Drop items off at the Southport Presbyterian Church’s campus at 7525 McFarland Blvd., Indianapolis.
Call 317-536-2900 if you want to donate large items or have large quantities to donate.
Money and gift cards can be donated in person at the McFarland campus or at the Southport Presbyterian Church’s administrative offices at 1427 Southview Drive.
The number of residents who attend has been going up, especially as food prices rise and the elderly and people on fixed incomes have to cut other expenses.
And the entire effort is coordinated, served and delivered by volunteers. They give up their holiday because, like the name of the holiday itself, it is their way of giving thanks for their many blessings, even if they don’t say so specifically.
That trait characterizes thousands of people across Johnson County. They volunteer every day in myriad ways to help those in need and to make the community a better place to live.
Yet needs continue. Just this month, dozens of southside families were forced out of their homes by the blast in the Richmond Hills neighborhood. But neighbors and strangers responded quickly, almost overwhelmingly, with offers of financial help and donations of clothing, food and furniture. That outpouring continues, and people can still contribute in various ways to the ongoing recovery effort.
Now that the holiday shopping season is upon us, there will be numerous requests for assistance, such as the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots. And once again, area residents will respond with almost unbounded generosity.
So as you sit down to your holiday meal today, whether it’s at the fairgrounds with dozens of friends you’ve never met, at home or at a restaurant, pause to give thanks to the army of volunteers throughout the county who make the community a better place throughout the year.