One year ago Thanksgiving during a pandemic forced many to either gather in small groups or not gather at all.
Many Locals are brushing aside those concerns this year thanks in part to the over 200 million Americans who are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus along with a downward trend of local cases.
For Sherry Choate of Corinth, much has changed in one year.
“It helped me realize how important life is,” she told the Daily Corinthian. “If the pandemic has done anything it has proved that every day is a gift that should be treasured and enjoyed.”
Choate is thankful she’s able to spend the holiday with her children and grandchildren, and she’s glad a “vaccine was made possible” to accomplish the feat.
State Senator Rita Potts Parks is giving applause to the Crossroads community for “pulling together and looking out for each other” during the pandemic.
She’s most thankful for her family’s health this year and for being able to spend Thursday with them.
“There’ll be an early morning hunt, we’ll eat a lot of turkey and dressing, visit with family and friends, and of course, watch some football,” added Parks.
After an unpredictable 2020, this year’s feast is more like normal for many.
Alcorn School District Superintendent Brandon Quinn will spend his Thanksgiving with his family and reminisce on the past.
“We will have a meal and tell stories,” said Quinn. “Some of the stories told have been heard a thousand times, but each year they become more and more meaningful. I hope to be present mentally and physically to soak up as much as I can. We have seen over the last couple of years that you never know when that time together will be cut short.”
Each year is a gift for L.A. Story.
“I am thankful for being surrounded by amazing people – both family and friends – every day,” she said. “I have so much love in my life that I am rich in blessings.”
Story’s Thanksgiving will not only include feasting and family time but also ukulele and guitar playing and singing by those who can ... and those who think they can.
Spending her first Thanksgiving back home, Lane Williams Yoder is thankful for the opportunity to do so.
“I’m so happy to be working in Corinth and living next door to my parents,” said Yoder, who acts as community development director for The Alliance. “This year for Thanksgiving we will be hosting our first family holiday meal in our home. The day will hopefully include a well-executed midday meal so there is time to nap before the Egg Bowl starts.”
Napping before the rivalry college football game between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Mississippi State Bulldogs are part of the plans for many Corinth families.
The Bain family – including State Representative Nick Bain – will be hosting a family Thanksgiving Day lunch followed by a “refreshing nap.”
“We have to work in some sleep time before the Battle for the Golden Egg – Hotty Toddy,” said Bain.
The lawmaker added, “Though it might sound cliche, after the last year and a half that we all have experienced, I am so grateful to have my health and the health of my family.”
Others with plans to eat, sleep and watch the Egg Bowl include Rienzi Alderman Dale Leonard and Corinth School District Superintendent Lee Childress.
Leonard gives praise to God for another healthy year.
“I often remind myself how good God has been to us, and even on my worst days, I still see His blessings,” he said.
Childress said he’s thankful for his family, their health and the community’s support. “I am blessed beyond words,” he added.
Crossroads Arena Events Manager Neil Cockrell will get a double dose of Thanksgiving on Thursday.
“I have lunch plans with my girlfriend’s family, and then dinner with my family – lots of eating and having a good time visiting,” he said.
Living Free Ministries and The Freedom Center Founder Tommy Wilson and his family don’t have plans to eat a normal Thanksgiving Day meal.
“We will eat breakfast with our family and then spend the day in Nashville,” he said.
Another local family is planning a Turkey Day breakfast before heading to work.
Mike and Debra Marolt are thankful for family and good health, as well as work – helping customers find their perfect Christmas tree on Thanksgiving Day.
“We have a lot of families who will come out to pick their tree after they get finished eating,” said Debra Marolt, who along with her husband owns Pine Mountain Tree Farm in the edge of Alcorn County.
For Corinth banker Tina Bugg, Thanksgiving is a day to slow down and enjoy a day off, while also giving thanks to all blessings.
“Though life may have given us a few bumps in the roads, we need to always find things and people to be thankful for,” she said. “I am thankful for family and friends, my career, and the community, but most of all that the Good Lord gives me another day to serve Him and others.”
She is known for her pleasant telephone voice.
Supportive, reassuring and sweetly southern.
The voice provides comfort there will be food on the table each Thanksgiving Day no matter the circumstances.
The phone rings early Friday afternoon at First Presbyterian Church in Corinth.
The caller is requesting what the church has done for every Thanksgiving for the past 33 years. Can a hot traditional meal be delivered to a family in need?
“Miss Joyce” has been the volunteer angel who takes calls from those seeking a meal.
“Sure, what’s your address, baby?” Miss Joyce asks. “How many meals do you need?”
The longtime church volunteer who works full-time the two and one-half weeks before Thanksgiving writes the name and address on a green index card.
“If we get lost, can we contact you at this number?” she asks. “Thank you, honey. Have a blessed day.”
Church members and other community volunteers will put together 750 hot to-go meals on Thanksgiving morning with chicken and dressing and all the trimmings for a nice holiday dinner. Meals are also delivered to the county jail.
The number is down this year from the usual 1,000 meals to be delivered in the Corinth area and throughout Alcorn County.
But none of it would happen every year without the lady taking all those calls for orders and listening to the many stories.
She remains the ears for those who need to talk.
The person behind this volunteer holiday spirit is Joyce Griffith, who has distributed free meal promotion flyers for people to sign up and taken calls for those seeking meals for 32 years the program has been serving others.
Sometimes the calls are more than people requesting food, said Griffith, married to Jack Griffith for 37 years and a Corinth resident for 34 years.
She hangs the phone up after another sign up. Griffith dabs the corner of her eye with a tissue.
“I talk to a lot of wonderful people,” said the volunteer, as her soft-spoken voice now has a quiver in the tone. “But it is heartbreaking at times. Some people don’t even have electricity.”
However, the free meal is not just about feeding those in need, she said.
“There are so many stories. ‘I have cancer and I’m not able to cook,’ or someone is home alone and doesn’t want to cook,” she said.
“One business will have employees working on Thanksgiving Day and they requested meals for employees. We said ‘sure.’ Anyone who needs a meal, gets a meal.”
Griffith writes grants for Jack Griffith and Associates, a family business. The couple has five grown children and five grandkids.
The voice behind the meal signup effort likes remaining behind the scenes and always looks forward to a new effort each year.
“I talk to many of the same people every year,” said Griffith. “They always tell me it feels good to hear my voice again.”
She said the toughest part of her job is talking to people after all the meals have been reserved. “That’s hard,” she admitted. “Having to turn people away.”
By the week of Thanksgiving, Joyce Griffith’s job is complete. Many more volunteers now needed to cook, assemble and deliver the meals, followed by a cleanup operation at Corinth Middle School – the base camp for the operation.
After two and one-half weeks of either flyer distribution or taking meal orders, the voice on the other end of the phone will be spending time with her own family.
“I do enjoy it,” she said. “It is a good service to the community.”
“I am just an unknown person to many of the people requesting meals,” added the volunteer. “But they do know my voice.”
As applications continue to pour in for the 26th Annual Corinth Rotary Club/Daily Corinthian Christmas Basket Fund food giveaway, the program’s first donations have arrived to support the project.
The annual program provides 1,000 holiday food baskets for local families through the generosity of donations from the community.
The fund is off to a good start as $250 has arrived to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Edward Jones has sent a $50 retirement distribution request from Betsy Whitehurst, the now retired and former longtime executive director of United Way of Corinth and Alcorn County. Whitehurst spent a career helping others and she continues to do so upon retirement.
Gene A. McCarter and Helen A. McCarter gave $200 in memory of Gene Autry Curtis and Louise P. McCarter.
“We really appreciate what the basket fund does for the community,” said Gene McCarter, who has been involved with community civic endeavors his entire life. “It’s a really good thing.”
Applications are available each day in the newspaper and they can also be picked up at the newspaper office. They must be returned to the office during the hours of 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Dec.1.
Baskets will be given away at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18 and those approved for one of the 1,000 baskets will be notified by phone.
A fundraising goal of $22,500 has been set to fund this year’s program. Donations are needed to help support the effort.
Basket Fund donations can be made “in honor of” or “in memory of” a special person, persons or groups. They can be family, friends or co-workers.
All donations and tributes will be recognized in the newspaper.
Donations can be brought by the newspaper office or mailed to: Daily Corinthian, Attn.: Christmas Basket Fund, P.O. Box 1800, Corinth, MS 38835.
Be sure to include if the gift is in either in honor of someone living or in memory of a special person who has passed away. Please include the person’s name with the donation.
Crossroads area children should sharpen their pencils and start working on their letter to Santa.
Beginning next week The Coliseum Theatre at 404 Taylor Street in downtown Corinth will host Main Street Corinth’s official Letters to Santa mailbox.
“The Corinth Area Arts Council got a special request from jolly red man himself to house the mailbox this year,” said Coliseum General Manager Patrick Hudson. “In a partnership with Main Street Corinth, the arts council will be collecting letters for Santa and sending them to the North Pole.”
Hudson said every letter received will receive a response from Santa Claus at no cost.
The bright red mailbox will appear in the garden adjacent to The Coliseum on Dec. 1 and remain there through the holiday. Letters must be submitted by Dec. 15 to receive a response from Father Christmas. A return address must be included.
Hudson said visitors are also invited to drop off a weatherproof ornament for the 2021 Community Christmas Tree located in the garden.
“Ornaments will be stored and each year, the community tree will be adorned with all the ornaments of years past,” he added. “We are excited to offer another unique holiday opportunity to our community.”
For more information, visit corinthcoliseum.com or call 662-643-5944.