Kellen Leef grew up with 6 siblings. With so many children in the home, Thanksgiving always played a large part for the family. When they all reached adulthood, there was a year when none of them were able to make the trip “home” for Thanksgiving dinner with their parents. Kellen immediately started thinking about the many people who do not have family or no family close enough to visit for Thanksgiving dinner. She wanted to find a way to give folks a way to enjoy homemade holiday food and company on this special day. In 2014 she and her partner, Michael Sheridan, began the free “Community Thanksgiving Dinner” beginning at 12pm in the Blue Ribbon Center at the West Virginia State Fairgrounds in Lewisburg. Michael and Kellen own and operate When Pigs Fly Restaurant, so it was the perfect fit to provide this dinner.
Kellen says, “I am very fortunate to have the ability to share Thanksgiving with so many wonderful people. The outpouring of support from our community is so wonderful! And I hope to share with many more people in the years to come.”
Since its inception, many local businesses and individuals have donated food or money for this dinner. Each year, Kellen and Michael publish a “wish list” of needed grocery items to make this dinner a success. This wish list is published on the restaurant’s facebook page @WhenPigsFlyBBQllc. If you are interested to provide food, call Kellen at 304-249-8124.
Monetary donations are welcome, and there will also be a donation jar for those who wish to donate at the event. The dinner is completely free.
Last year, they had 82 volunteers over 2 days. They are vital to the success of the dinner because they help prep food, set up, and decorate the building on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, they help cook, serve meals, clean up, and wash dishes.
Michael and Kellen refer to this event as their “Day of Giving Back” It has been growing each year. In 2014 and ‘15, they held the event at their restaurant and served about 200 people. The year of the flood (2016), they served about 300. Last year, they served about 350 folks.
“This community has been very good to us over the years, and we’re happy just to have the opportunity to give a little something back. We like the neighbor-to-neighbor aspect of this. We want to keep it simple so that we can retain that direct connection between individuals. I also enjoy having the children come and volunteer to serve. That interaction is good both for the kids, who learn from it. Abd for our “customers,” many of whom have scant opportunity to spend time with children. They love it.” Michael Sheridan
– Diana Hunt. HashtagWV #119. November 2019.