Taryn Conner rocked in a chair with her one-week-old baby while singing along to “Amazing Grace” on Wednesday at the Christian Soup Ministry kitchen, 301 East Third Avenue.
Conner arrived before the doors opened at 11:30 a.m. for the annual Thanksgiving dinner. She waited among the group of 30 people with her husband, Michael, and their children — Billy and 4-year-old Michael.
“It gives people that can’t eat a place to eat,” she said.
The kitchen has given the Conners a regular place to find a meal and donated clothes during hard times. They figured they had their first meal there in 2010.
Keith Dellenbach, a pastor with Oasis Ranch & Retreat Center in Plevna, led the singing of a couple of songs then everyone had a chance to say what they were thankful for.
About eight people spoke, and each mentioned “Ms. Stanley.”
“We love you,” one man said.
Stanley Murdock, soup kitchen executive director, sat at a check-in table at the front.
“I thank all of you for always being respectful all the time,” Murdock said.
By the time Pastor Russell Bonine with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Haven finished reading Psalm 145, the kitchen had more than 50 people.
About 40 volunteers helped serve lunch and deliver more than 100 meals. Murdock said that’s more than double they serve during the regular meal schedule: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
“Rarely is there food leftover,” Murdock said.
Murdock said they had 23 turkeys donated by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and baked by members of area churches. Dillons donated the pies and rolls.
They also had about 12 children and parents volunteer with the Kansas Phog Basketball teams. Often, the people eating would finish up and ask “Ms. Stanley” if there is anything they could do.
Murdock said the clients make her job easy and that it’s the best job in Hutchinson.
“Take off your hat please,” she said to one man who walked in.
He nodded to her and removed the hat. Others stopped to talk about family and hug Murdock. People would ask for a to-go box and tell the kitchen staff that “Ms. Stanley said it’s OK.”
She’s been doing it for 25 years. Murdock said she plans to step away one day, but not anytime soon. She knows the kitchen will continue since: “It’s God’s place.”
“One monkey don't stop no show,” she said.
The dinner went until 2 p.m.
On Thursday, there will be a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Emanuel Lutheran Church, 140 East 30th Avenue.