For those who couldn't make it home for Thanksgiving dinner this year, the Trinity Lutheran Church's annual Thanksgiving Eve Fundraising Supper Wednesday night was just the ticket.
The 12 players arrived at the church right after practice, so sophomore Forward Kowan Russell, Liberal, said they were famished.
"I am going to try to eat as much as I can. I don't have any food at home," Russell said. "I heard they have carry-out so I'm going to try to take some with me too."
The team is practicing all week, including Thanksgiving, prior to playing this weekend, so the players welcomed the chance to get a good dinner, which consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, beans, corn, gravy, bread and pies.
"But for those who struggle having turkey tomorrow or Friday, we also have roast beef and ham tonight, so for those who don't want to mess up their turkey dinner experience, we're going to give you roast beef," Leland Jackson, director of Christian Education at Trinity Lutheran Church said.
Dinners were $5 per person and $15 for families. Last year, 165 people were served and it was on track to hit that same number Wednesday night. Jackson works with middle school, high school and college-aged kids who go on missions to help rebuild in areas hit by natural disasters. Over the past several years, the group has gone to New Orleans and Joplin, Mo., to help people rebuild their homes.
Jackson said that half of the funds raised from both the supper and from sales of items such as popcorn, pistachios and cookie dough goes toward funding the trips themselves, and the other half goes to the kids who helped with the dinner.
"We divide it by the number of hours that the kids do, so they can put that in to use for their trip," he said. "Our (middle school) kids have been the backbone the last two days, getting things set up."
Clara Jackson, 13, and Trisha Doty, 12, were two of the middle school students on hand, helping serve the food.
"Pretty much anybody can come and we just serve them a good Thanksgiving meal," Clara said.
Another trip that the group makes every year is to Mexico to build homes for people there.
"In Mexico, it's a long trip there and then it's with Amore Ministries and we go and we build houses. And you get to sleep in tents. It's a lot of fun," she said. "So we build a house for them and sometimes we make quilts for money or earn money or make like pillows or rugs and then we buy curtains and then we give that to them after we're done building the house."
The next mission trip is scheduled for Jan. 1 to Jan. 5 in Joplin.
"We're going back to Joplin and we had put that on the calendar and then Sandy hits the east coast, so my college kids were like, 'So are we going to go to Sandy?' And I thought about it for just a second and then one of the guys that have been on these trips with me said it would take like two days to get there so you lose 30 hours of work time and 30 hours to get home, so you would really only get two and a half days of work, whereas Joplin you're down there in seven to eight hours," Jackson said, adding that they helped insulate and put up sheet rock in Joplin last year.
For Jackson and fellow church members, faith is an inspiration for holding events like the community dinner and the various service trips it helps fund.
"Jesus came to serve us on the cross so we're just kind of emulating Jesus by serving you and helping," he said.