Volunteers: Mel Trotter Thanksgiving Banquet ‘satisfying work’

20th annual feast takes over Grand Rapids' DeVos Place Thursday

Mel Trotter Thanksgiving Banquet preps
Volunteers prepare settings for Mel Trotter Ministries' annual Thanksgiving Banquet. (Nov. 23, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Many people are preparing for the largest meal they’ll make all year, complete with 1,500 pounds of turkey; 1,200 pounds of mashed potatoes, 50 gallons of gravy and 200 pies.

The Mel Trotter Thanksgiving Banquet is a tradition and everyone’s invited.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s also satisfying work, because we came into an empty room and we leave ready to go,” said Dick TenElshof, a teacher at Plymouth Christian High School in Grand Rapids.

Ready to go and ready to serve more than 2,000 people Thursday at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

This year will mark the 20th year of the feast, which is open to all.

“A lot of people think it’s just for the homeless. We have many, many people from all over the greater Grand Rapids area that come for a meal. They’re just looking for someone to sit with, and talk with and to share a meal with,” explained Abbey Sladick of Mel Trotter Ministries.

Dick TenElshof and his students spent 3.5 hours Wednesday morning helping to set up the room that will be full of fellowship Thursday.

“I brought my students down because we feel it’s better to give than to receive. And if we can give our time and energy, we feel that’s what we’re here for,” he said.

The holiday meal also serves as a jumping-off point for Mel Trotter Ministries to help those struggling with hunger, homelessness, addiction or wherever they are in life’s journey.

“This is our opportunity to build relationships with them and to provide resources to move forward,” said Sladick.

The 20th annual Thanksgiving banquet is one of several free meals available in West Michigan this holiday weekend. It will be served between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Thursday at DeVos Place.