The Dusty Elam Foundation will this year be partnering with First Baptist Church in Manchester to host the first-ever “Dusty’s Dinner,” from 12 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, providing a Thanksgiving meal to those in need in the area.

Coordinators have prepared for 600 people, and meals served will include Thanksgiving staples like turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce.

Pictured from left are Jake Dorak, associate pastor at First Baptist; Chris Elam and Taylor Rayfield, of the Dusty Elam Foundation. (Staff photo by Leila Beem Núñez)
Pictured from left are Jake Dorak, associate pastor at First Baptist; Chris Elam and Taylor Rayfield, of the Dusty Elam Foundation. (Staff photo by Leila Beem Núñez)

“We have food for 600 people,” said Chris Elam of the Dusty Elam Foundation. “You always hear about food baskets, and those are great, but our thing was, where can somebody go to get a hot meal? Some people in the community that we’ve met don’t even have electricity, so they can’t even prepare food. Our vision was, let’s prepare them a meal.”

The event is open to the public, and is first-come, first-served.

“Anyone can come,” Elam said. “Just show up and we’ll feed you. You can eat here or you can take it to go.”

Taylor Rayfield, a member of the Dusty Elam Foundation, said First Baptist Church was a perfect fit for the organization’s Thanksgiving outreach needs, and that the event is the perfect way to give back. When the foundation asked the church, Rayfield said, First Baptist jumped right on board.

“It’s a nice venue, it’s in a prime location right here in the middle of our community, and we also have a great congregation that’s always willing to partner with and get behind initiatives taking care of those in need,” Rayfield said. “It’s always humbling to see when we have things we want to do to help things in the community that folks like First Baptist Church immediately jump on board and say, ‘How can we help? How can we be a part of it?’”

Jake Dorak, associate pastor at First Baptist, said that when asked to help host the dinner, the answer from the church was an obvious one. Dorak gave all the credit to the Dusty Elam Foundation.

“We just have great respect for the Dusty Elam Foundation and what it does in our community, and as a church, we want to be a gift, so this was just a natural partnership on Thanksgiving,” Dorak said. “It came from [the foundation], and we were just glad that they considered us. We’re grateful they thought of us. We’re looking forward to being a part of this.”

Members of both organizations agreed that while it is good to provide support to those in need in other states and countries, it is important to pay attention to the need that exists in Coffee County.

“My heart is, I want what we’re doing in other places – when we send teams out to mission trips in other places – I want to make sure we’re still doing that in our own community,” said Dorak, who over the past year has helped coordinate Serve Coffee County out of First Baptist, an aid and ministry program that sends teams to local schools and neighborhoods. “I just want to make sure we’re making an impact right here.”

Elam said the key was for organizations to partner up on events like this one, to do more than any one organization could do alone. He added that the foundation hopes to continue this Thanksgiving dinner for years to come.

“We can do it together. It’s not so bad on all of us,” Elam said. “It’s two great things coming together to make what we hope will be a great day.”

Organizations who would like to be a part of the event and people who would like to volunteer may contact Chris Elam at (931) 273-3419.

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