The Boonville community delivered 446 Thanksgiving meals to local Warrick County families on the Nov. 23 holiday.

The meals were delivered as a part of the 17th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Lisa and Mark Mayer, owners of Shabby Sheek Boutique in Boonville, along with their daughter Megan Barnhill, have been providing Warrick County families with meals during Thanksgiving since 2001.

"And since then, it's just kind of been the thing that our family does," Barnhill said. "We continue to do it. There is a need every year."

Barnhill has also been working as a full-time employee for her parents at Shabby Sheek Boutique in Boonville for over 10 years.

"So we are as close as you can possibly can be," she said.

Barnhill said they sent out 28 different delivery groups on Thanksgiving morning this year.

"Some were families," she said. "And some were individuals."

Barnhill said that because there was so much extra food donated this year, they will be packaging extra food items as a part of Christmas baskets to gift.

"To make sure, that food is going to the families in need," she said. "This year, the food will be going to families in Tennyson."

Barnhill said that any family or individual who feels like they qualify for a meal on Thanksgiving will get one.

"We do not ask for any verification. It's not income based," she said. "Anyone that feels like they need a meal delivered to them on Thanksgiving will. All they have to do is pick between pumpkin pie and chocolate cake."

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The meals also included roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, corn and green beans.

Barnhill said they deliver to families all throughout Warrick County, not just in Boonville.

"We deliver as far south as Newburgh," she said, "and as far north as Lynnville and Elberfeld."

Barnhill said the Community Thanksgiving Dinner originally started out as a meal gathering at Studio Bee.

"It was not delivery at all," she said. "The original ida was to prepare the meal and then people could come to Studio Bee to come together."

Barnhill said after a few years, she and her family realized there was a need for the dinner to be delivered.

"We started getting a call for people to bring their meals to them," she said. "Whether they were shut ins or didn't have a car, and that's when we started making the transition."

Barnhill said eventually they got so big with how many meals they prepared and delivered that folks from Boonville Middle School offered up the life skills kitchen to be used.

"And we doubled our delivery numbers the first year at the middle school," she said.

Barnhill said she wanted to emphasize the fact that the entire community helps to put on the dinner, not just her family.

"All we do every year is the administrating and organizing side," she said. "It's truly a community thing. We could not do it without all of the volunteers and help."

Barnhill said she and her family saw an increase in new volunteers this year, which was a great addition to the core group that volunteer every year.

"We have certain volunteers every year that show up and we know are going to scoop corn," she said. "So we know that we can count on those people to be there."

Barnhill said this year, the Knights of Columbus from St. Clements Church in Boonville stepped up as major volunteers.

"Someone had done those jobs last year and they stepped in," she said. "So it always seems to work out."

Barnhill said it is amazing to see how many volunteers come out to help.

"The last family that we sent out has done it every year," she said.

Mayer said this year is a bit bittersweet for her, as she is now a mother herself.

"My youngest brother was 12 when we started it and my son will be 11 next month," she said. "And this is his first year doing what my brother started. We have people coming with their kids and they originally started with their parents."

Barnhill said her four children and her husband enjoy helping out and participating in the community dinner on Thanksgiving.

"They love it," she said. "It's our family tradition. And they just know that Thanksgiving is at the community dinner.

Barnhill said that as long as there is a need in the community, her family will continue to serve meals on Thanksgiving in Warrick County.

"We have one recipient who we have delivered to at least 15 years," she said, "and so we always joke that the year she stops calling, we're done because she has received meals from us for so long and every year when she calls we say, 'yep, we can do it again.' "

Marisa Patwa is a graduate of the University of Evansville with a degree in journalism and minor in political science.

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