Jessie Banks hopes she and other members of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Mooresville will have provided 500 Thanksgiving meals with turkeys and all the trimmings to local families this holiday.

Banks started the church’s Thanksgiving meal outreach program in 2016 when parishioners provided turkeys and bags of holiday meal fixins’ for around 25 families. “I thought, oh, wow, that’s incredible,” Banks said. “In 2017, we got 50 turkeys and 50 bags of groceries. I was really jumping then. In 2018, last Thanksgiving, we had over 100 turkeys and bags of groceries. Right now, in 2019, praise God, we’re up to 280.”

But Banks and Father Greg McIntyre, the rector at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, believe by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the outreach program will have fed close to 500 families. “We are meeting that need and connecting to the Lake Norman-area community,” McIntyre said.

Over the past few years, Banks has put out her plea for the congregation to pick up empty bags at church and fill them with a 10-pound turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls and a pie to be delivered just prior to Thanksgiving.

Each year, the response has become greater and greater. “They are just going crazy with these turkeys,” Banks said.

“Jessie has a way,” said McIntyre. “She’s just a force. She starts talking to people. People get behind her and say ‘Let’s make it happen.’”

The local school districts and government social services programs have provided addresses of families who could benefit from a holiday meal but do not provide names, said Lisa Petrozza, a member of the church’s pastoral care committee.

Banks said she is also familiar with the neighborhoods in Mooresville and Statesville in need of meals because she often provides free pizza during the summer to families.

Parishioners delivered the Thanksgiving meals to families after church service Nov. 24, Banks said.

Petrozza said the Thanksgiving meal outreach program has been so rewarding. “You see the good in people,” Petrozza said. “Sometimes we don’t see day to day but it’s there.”

Banks is happy to help more and more people each year. “It’s just amazing,” she said. “It makes me feel so good.”

And, it seems the Thanksgiving tradition at St. Patrick’s will continue for years to come.

“Everything is pointing to we’re going to keep doing this,” said McIntyre.

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