MLK Center posts record-blasting holiday meal service

Volunteers dish up some of the record-breaking 7,000 Thanksgiving dinners served by Rock Island’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center this year. CREDIT MLK CENTER

Rock Island’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center inspired greatness by serving up more than 7,000 free, delicious holiday meals in the Quad Cities this year – more than double the 3,500 Thanksgiving meals it served up in 2021.

The results of the 33rd Annual Thanksgiving Meal service, offered Friday to Sunday, Nov. 18-20, also blasted the MLK Center’s already ambitious goal to serve 5,000 Thanksgiving dinners this year.

“This is one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of. There are so many people to thank and acknowledge for this success,”  MLK Center Executive Director Jerry Jones said in a news release. 

He added: “This event genuinely embodies our mission to inspire greatness in the Quad Cities through community building and service. This is just one of the ways that we show our love for our neighbors and the entire Quad Cities community.”

After tallying up deliveries, curbside pickups and walk-in meals, the number of meals served over the three days included 1,600 on Friday, 3,000 on Saturday, and 2,400 on Sunday.

Many of the deliveries were to low-income residences, senior residences, and police and fire departments throughout the Quad Cities. Many of them were delivered by Rock Island-based Dohrn Transfer.

On Saturday, 500 meals also were distributed via Together Making a Better Community (TMBC) at the Lincoln Center, Davenport. Hundreds of community members from throughout the Quad Cities came through the drive-through curbside service at the MLK Center in Rock Island.

The event’s success was made possible by the generous support of sponsors. “Their contributions enabled the team to purchase additional food over the weekend to accommodate the demand,” the center’s news release said. “HyVee, in particular, was extremely responsive to urgent requests when food supplies ran low, which allowed operations to continue and enabled the goal to be exceeded.

This year’s sponsors, in addition to HyVee, include: Deere & Co., Moline Foundation, Quad City Bank & Trust, Rock Island Township, UnityPoint Health Trinity, Whitey’s Ice Cream, Huiskamp Collins Investments LLC, Eaton, Cribbs Landscaping, South Rock Island Township, Liberty Packaging, Dohrn Transfer and Jim’s Rib Haven.

The record-breaking service also was credited to the hundreds of volunteers who rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to feed the community a warm holiday meal. They included guest chefs, who each managed the kitchen for one day: Chef Keys by KC Ross, Connie Buchanan, and NEST Café. Carl Johnson spent the week leading up to the event smoking 70 cases of turkeys.

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