Meet Mike and Mary Alice Ezzell
My wife Mary Alice and I are members of the Mobile Loaves and Fishes Ministry of our parish. That particular ministry provides lunches in the form of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, turkey and cheese sandwiches, fruit, chips and cookies to locations on the south and west side of San Antonio where the need is greatest. When we began with Mobile Loaves and Fishes, we quickly became attached to the people that we served. We were also humbled by the gratitude that we saw when we distributed the cold sandwiches, cookies, etc. I commented to Mary Alice one time that it was almost like we were giving them a steak dinner, with the response and thanks that we were getting. What a blessing they have been!
After one of our Saturday food distributions in early fall, 2013, while we were on the way home Mary Alice commented, “I wish there was a way that we could provide a hot meal for them. Wouldn’t that be great?” So, an idea was born. We thought, “Why not?” Why not cook them a real Thanksgiving dinner, on Thanksgiving Day, and distribute the meal to them early enough in the day so that they could enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with their families? Not just one dinner, but if they asked for seven, we would give them seven dinners.
That first year, Thanksgiving, 2013, there were only four of us. But we cobbled together as many roasters, serving equipment, and warming containers as we could, and we served hot turkey and gravy, homemade cornbread dressing, fresh mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, homemade yeast dinner rolls, fresh baked Apple crisp, and about two dozen fresh baked pumpkin pies. We provided “To Go” containers, so that the families could take the food home to enjoy it in their homes. That first year, we served almost 200 meals.
By the second year, the word had gotten around about our Thanksgiving Day dinner, and a lot of volunteers raised their hands and said “We would like to help”. So we put them to work. In the 3 to 4 weeks before Thanksgiving, 2014, we enlisted many hands in food preparation so that we would be ready for Thanksgiving. Without those volunteers, we could not have served the number of meals that we did that year. This time, there were not just four of us serving on Thanksgiving morning, we had at least a dozen. That year, we served over 250 meals. In the years since, the number of meals has continued to grow. In 2019 with our rented Commercial Kitchen that we used Tuesday through Thursday of Thanksgiving week, and with the help of almost 250 volunteers we served over 1400 meals! We began 2020 already planning for Thanksgiving 2020 but in early Spring coronavirus hit our world. We heard of the increased need for food distribution, and we as a Board at Pilgrim’s Pantry decided to do something about it. We allocated a sizeable donation and purchased food that was delivered to the St. Vincent de Paul Society for distribution. Click here to read a letter of thanks from the president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. For Thanksgiving 2020 because of coronavirus concerns we distributed the same home cooked dinners but in a socially distanced format to protect the safety of our recipients and our volunteers. Our volunteers blessed us with their presence and we served over 1000 meals in a socially distanced manner. See our photo gallery for 2020.
The formal name of the nonprofit corporation is Matt 2535 Holdings, Inc. “Pilgrim” is in deference to the first pilgrims at Thanksgiving, and the true meaning of the celebration of Thanksgiving. “Matt 2535” is in recognition of the scripture found at Matthew 25:35 and following.
The number of meals that we have served has also continued to grow. We would like to grow as well. We would be honored by any tax deductible contribution that you could make to Pilgrim’s Pantry. Wouldn’t you like to be part of this group that serves a hot meal to those in need, on a day that is a tradition for all of us? Thank you so much for considering us.
‘ For I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in… whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35