Chaffee High School students work to provide local seniors a Thanksgiving meal

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Chaffee High School students Cierra Crites, left, Stevie Schrum, center, and Ryan Lohmann pose with pumpkin and pecan pies. Students are preparing 20 pumpkin and 20 pecan pies, three chocolate cakes and three butter pecan pies for Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner at the VFW in Chaffee, Mo. (Laura Simon)

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- Today at Chaffee High School is a day students follow tradition and show appreciation to those who came before them.

Members of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) at Chaffee High School annually raise money and prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for local senior citizens.

Mackenzie Chatman, a junior at Chaffee High School, said the event is a tradition that was started in 1990 by Jennifer Nolan and Rebecca Crippen. Nolan was a family and consumer science teacher and FCCLA sponsor at the high school.

In 2004, Sid Atkins took over Nolan's teaching position and FCCLA sponsor for the event. The other half of the sponsorship comes from FBLA.

Atkins said the students raise money for the dinner in October by doing a roadblock at the corner of Main and Yoakum streets. The students donate items for the dinner at their own cost.

"We have about 70 students that are bringing in supplies. They bring in around $1,000 worth of supplies," Atkins said. "Then we spend around $1,000 to $1,200, which comes from the fundraisers."

The dinner includes a variety of Thanksgiving favorites such as turkey, slaw, chicken and dumplings, sweet potatoes, rolls and pies, according to Atkins. The students make about 50 pies from scratch during class.

"We make pecan and pumpkin pies because those are the seniors' favorites," Atkins said.

Stevie Schrum stirs the filling for a pecan pie Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 at Chaffee High School. Students are preparing 20 pumpkin and 20 pecan pies, three chocolate cakes and three butter pecan pies for Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner at the school. (Laura Simon)

The dinner is held at the VFW in Chaffee. The students expect to serve about 375 seniors this year, Atkins said, which is around the same number of seniors as in previous years.

The students set up the tables and carve 20 turkeys the night before the event, according to Atkins. On the day of the event, the students leave class to prepare the dinner.

"We begin cooking the dinner at 8 a.m. the day of the Thanksgiving dinner," Atkins said. "We assign three students per, table and once the seniors get there, the students serve them tea, water, coffee the whole time. The seniors go through a line for the food. It's the biggest social event for the seniors in our area. They start showing up around four to socialize. Our students really enjoy it. They look forward to it."

Ray Motes of Chaffee has attended the dinner for the last three years, and is planning to be there again this year. He said the students are wonderful.

"The students bend over backwards. I'm on a walker; they make sure I'm well taken care of. And they do that with hundreds of people," Motes said. "These kids need praise for it. You'll find that these kids thoroughly enjoy what they do and are proud of what they are doing."

Ryan Lohmann cracks an egg for the filling of a pecan pie Tuesday at Chaffee High School.

Chatman is involved in FBLA and FCCLA. This is her third year preparing the Thanksgiving dinner. She said her favorite thing about the event is getting well acquainted with the senior community and giving back to them.

"They are very appreciative of the dinner. I think all of the students get out and help with the dinner because it's fun and inspirational," Chatman said. "It makes me want to get out and do more stuff for the community."

The Thanksgiving dinner starts at 5 p.m. today. Tickets are free and can be picked up at the Chaffee Senior Center at 800 S. Main St. or at the Chaffee High School office.

Perryville High School's student council also is holding its annual Senior Citizens Holiday Dinner at 5 p.m. on Dec. 4. The menu includes turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberries and dessert. To make a reservation or for more information call 547-7500. Dial 8 and then 490.

Pertinent address:

217 S. Frisco St., Chaffee, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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