Photo #1 Leroy Worsham

The First Presbyterian Church Thanksgiving Day meal has been a part of the Corinth and Alcorn County community for 33 years. The late Leroy Worsham helped put together the to-go meals in 2015.

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.

Tears, perhaps?

“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.”

Editor

A 1981 University of Tennessee - Martin graduate, Mark Boehler has over 40 years of journalism experience. His wife Dawn is the love of his life and they share five grown children and 10 grandchildren. His passion is his work - writing and photography.

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