As the Fulton Soup Kitchen prepares for its first Thanksgiving dinner Saturday, its leadership has chosen a new director.
The kitchen announced Wednesday that Shane McKinnon is stepping down from his role, and Gerry Mize has been placed as the new director of daily operations. Board President Katherine Bader said McKinnon stepped down to pursue new employment opportunities.
"I've been a volunteer at the kitchen for years, but I felt surprised and blessed when I heard about (being named director)," Mize said.
"(Mize is) one of the kitchen managers at the Fulton State Hospital, and she's been involved the soup kitchen longer than I have, which is six years," Bader said.
Newly named assistant director of operations, Tammy Mahnken, said Mize will combine her experience of "everything in food service" with how well she is known in town. Mahnken believed it's a good move for the kitchen as she anticipates Mize will be able to draw more volunteers.
"She's got a lot of changes in mind that she wants to bring to the kitchen," Bader said.
Mize said she does not plan to make any immediate changes. Instead, she'll make sure the kitchen stays in operation and clean so they can continue to put out "quality meals to people."
The Thanksgiving dinner will be 3-5 p.m. Saturday. A "traditional Thanksgiving" meal will be provided to anyone who feels they need the meal, Mahnken said. The kitchen received food donations from Walmart and Abbott Realty for the dinner.
While the kitchen has a number of volunteers signed up for the dinner, Bader said more volunteers are always welcome. Between 100-150 diners are anticipated at Saturday's dinner.
"We had a food drive over the summer, and the community came together so well with all of the volunteers that showed up," Mahnkin said.
Bader said there are no requirements to eat at the dinner, and nobody will be turned away. Mahnkekn also said the kitchen anticipates hosting a Christmas dinner in December, depending on the number of donations they receive.
"We want to have something for the kids who are regulars here so we're looking for stockings to be donated so all of the kids can have stockings with their names on them," Mahnkin said.
The Holts Summit Soup Kitchen will be hosting their own Thanksgiving dinner 5-6 p.m. tonight.