When RaeZack’s owners Dan and Michelle King planned their inaugural community Thanksgiving dinner last year, they made it clear that they wanted all who needed a meal to partake, and that sometimes needs extend well beyond finances.
“We figure that if you’re coming down here to eat that day, you more than likely truly need a place to be,” Dan King said at the time. “If we can show somebody some love that day, that’s what we’re here for.”
That approach was obvious last Thursday, when the Kings, their staff and their friends who pitched in to help served up more than 400 meals to Scott Countians — all of them in need, in some form or fashion.
And, in keeping with the theme of 2020, the need this year was a little different for many.
“There were a lot of people coming to pick up food for people in quarantine, or the elderly that couldn’t get out or were afraid to get out,” said Nancy Chambers, who waitresses at the Helenwood restaurant.
The coronavirus pandemic prevented many families from gathering together this Thanksgiving as they usually would — some because they were self-isolating because they were sick or quarantining because of exposure, others as a precaution because they fall into the at-risk category. For the elderly and others without kids or spouses, it was a lonely day. RaeZack’s was able to help.
“There were people that I saw that said, while crying, ‘If it wasn’t for RaeZack’s, their family would not have had a meal,’” Chambers said.
“I saw people that were just alone, and had no place to go,” she added. “One man told me that he lost his wife recently, and they never had children. He had no family left. He said he couldn’t tell us how thankful he was.”
The deal — same as last year — was a free Thanksgiving meal for anyone who needed it or wanted it. And not some shabby food, but the same thing RaeZack’s serves to their paying customers: turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, roll, drink, and banana pudding thrown in to complete the meal — no cost, no strings attached.
For the King family, it’s a labor of love, a ministry that extends beyond the doors of their church and into their restaurant. They and many of their staff gave up their holiday to serve the community.
By the end of the designated three-hour time slot, more than 400 people had been served. Some of them were dine-in customers but the bulk were drive-thru, with a line that stretched from the window, through the parking lot and into the highway.
It wasn’t just those who were alone on Thanksgiving who were served, either. A group of workers from Takahata Precision Tennessee’s Helenwood plant who were spending their holiday at work were served, as well.
“It was a sad and happy time serving these people and seeing them be blessed and thankful,” Chambers said.