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Roanoke restaurant and a church provide Thanksgiving meals for nearly 700 first responders

It’s a tradition the church started 18 years ago called Operation Turkey Drop

While most people are enjoying a hot meal with their loved ones this Thanksgiving Day, hundreds of first responders are sacrificing their holiday dinner.

ROANOKE, Va. – While most people are enjoying a hot meal with their loved ones this Thanksgiving Day, hundreds of first responders are sacrificing their holiday dinner.

Lining up behind Wildwood Smokehouse, dozens of Fellowship Community Church volunteers opened their trunks to deliver food to first responders.

“When they have to be away from their families on Thanksgiving Day, it gives an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy a good meal,” Pastor Ken Nienke said.

Church volunteers packed bread as the owners of the barbecue restaurant rolled out the main course.

Wildwood Smokehouse had to prepare a huge feast with nearly 30 turkeys and 40 quarts of green beans, mac and cheese and potato salad to feed 670 first responders.

It’s a tradition the church started 18 years ago called Operation Turkey Drop. But for the past 11 years, the restaurant owners have made the kind gesture their yearly priority.

“They’re the ones keeping us safe,” Erin Dill with Wildwood Smokehouse said. “Especially on days like today with families in town and a bunch of traffic. Everybody is doing their part so we thought this was our part to give back to them.”

Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Department was one of the 38 locations that received a box of goodies.

Capt. Brandon Shepard said it’s an act of kindness they don’t ever seek.

“Well, it means a lot,” he said. “It means someone appreciates the fact that we are here and that we are taking time away from our families.”

The restaurant also made 500 sandwiches to hand out to dispatchers, healthcare workers and rescue workers this week.


About the Author:

Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.