Everybody Eats Numbers Short of Expectations

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COLUMBIA - Although the annual Everybody Eats Thanksgiving dinner saw fewer guests than expected Thursday, organizers said a high volunteer turnout made it possible. The program saw more than one hundred volunteers helping with tasks like cooking and cleaning tables.

The Thanksgiving dinner served nearly 400 guests by 12:30 p.m. Volunteers expected to see about 500 by 2 p.m. Crayton said there was still plenty of food left Thursday afternoon because she expected 600 to 800 guests.

Chris Gadsden brought his family to help serve food and clean tables. "I feel like we've really been blessed, and it's our job to help as many people as we can." Gadsden said. "I want the kids to think of somebody bedsides themselves during the holidays." Gadsden's son William also said he enjoyed volunteering, "I think everyone's happy that they're able to come here and have a great time."

Founder Almeta Crayton said, if guests keep coming to the event, the kitchen could stay open until 5 p.m. "We are blessed today to be able to feed those folks who have no place to go," Crayton said. "This is just a big family reunion."

Crayton said she was still very happy with the turnout, but hopes to have volunteer drivers to pick up potential guests in coming years. She said a pick-up service could bring more people in, but drivers would need to have chauffeur's licenses.