“Cotton” Dixon wore a red Santa Claus hat and red fleece jacket Saturday while he ate a full plate of Thanksgiving fixings at Mount Prospect Baptist Church.
“It’s time to be in the spirit,” said Dixon, a Rock Hill resident who says he’ll wear the hat through Christmas.
Dixon doesn’t come to the church’s annual holiday meal every year, but on Saturday, he was getting groceries at the church’s food pantry and heard about it.
“They said they was going to have a big feast here today,” he said.
And a feast it was. 17 sweet potato pies, five turkeys, ham, chicken, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, beans, mustard greens and more.
Before 11 a.m. more than 30 people had already eaten.
The man behind the meal is 75-year-old church member George Harris, who said he’s been cooking to provide the meal for several years now, not sure how many.
For a few years now the church has been providing the meal on Thanksgiving, but several churches have meals on the holiday, said Pastor William Ferguson.
Harris recommended the church move the meal to another day.
“Being a bachelor, I had to think about the others who don’t have anybody,” he said.
Some people might not get invited to Thanksgiving dinner or “don’t have a family” to cook for them or to eat with, he said.
“I love to cook a large volume of food,” Harris said Saturday while cutting huge pans of stuffing and trimming turkey meat from the bone.
His goal is to feed 150 people. To cook that much food, he started his shift Friday night – a fact that didn’t surprise Tommy Durham, who used to cook with Harris at Winthrop University.
“Anything he can do for anybody” that’s what he does, Durham said.
A bonus: “George can cook!” Durham said, recalling how the students at Winthrop used to say, “George cooks like my momma.”
They will serve the community meal on Saturday until all the food is gone, said church member Glorias Robinson. Mount Prospect also helps between 125-155 people every Saturday through its food pantry, she said.
Sandra Evans helped serve the meal Saturday. She moved to Rock Hill from New Jersey about a year ago, and it took a little while to find the right church for her. Now she helps out with the food pantry.
Evans said she was glad. “Just helping people – I’m just glad I didn’t have to cook it,” she said lightheartedly.
“Every bite is good,” said Tony Walton, who was eating with Corrine Bratton and her mother, Carrie Jones.
Walton also worked with Harris at Winthrop and said he was a “very good guy. I’m betting on George,” he said. “I’d go to war for him. Not with him – for him. He could stay at home.”
The three also get groceries from the church’s food pantry, they said, which really helps them out with meals during the week, Bratton said.
“It’s a blessing,” she said.
Jamie Self 803-329-4062