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March 23, 2023

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Free Thanksgiving meals available again this year in Clark County

Despite pandemic, familiar faces providing traditional holiday food for those in need

By , Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
4 Photos
Daddy D's Southern Style BBQ owner Donnie Vercher, left, joins volunteers Chase Alderman and Michael Campbell as they prepare smoked turkey on Friday afternoon. The trio helped make free Thanksgiving meals to feed 3,000 people in 2020.
Daddy D's Southern Style BBQ owner Donnie Vercher, left, joins volunteers Chase Alderman and Michael Campbell as they prepare smoked turkey on Friday afternoon. The trio helped make free Thanksgiving meals to feed 3,000 people in 2020. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

As officials ask families to forgo the usual large get-togethers this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a typical Thanksgiving gathering is out of reach for many. For others, a traditional turkey dinner is out of reach financially as people have lost employment or lack a home and kitchen.

Despite the turmoil surrounding the novel coronavirus, a few groups are stepping up to feed those in need this holiday while taking some safety measures. They expect to provide free Thanksgiving meals to thousands of people.

WareHouse ’23 delivers

Beaches proprietor Mark Matthias is anticipating more than 700 pre-orders of the Thanksgiving Day meal that’s traditionally been held inside his riverside restaurant, WareHouse ’23. This year, volunteers are delivering meals to people in low-income housing and senior living facilities who can’t make it to the restaurant.

On Thanksgiving Day, people can drive or walk up to 100 Columbia St. to pick up a meal to go between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Turkey and all of the fixings — ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, rolls and apple turnovers — will be individually packaged in aluminum containers. Matthias, in partnership with state Court of Appeals Judge Rich Melnick, decided to do a curbside pickup after discussing how to keep the event safe.

“We’re trying to balance the public’s need for food with the public’s need to be safe,” Melnick said. “We’re really, really encouraging people if they have somewhere safe and warm to take the meal to go.”

Those without homes can dine under a tent set up in the restaurant’s parking lot. Also, they’ll get a gift bag including a hat, scarf, gloves and socks.

Melnick founded the tradition in 1982 with restaurateur Chuck Chronis, who previously hosted the meal at his downtown Vancouver bar before it closed. This is the fifth year WareHouse ’23 has hosted the meal. Matthias anticipates feeding 1,500 people between the pre-orders and those who show up on Thanksgiving. The restaurant plans to do it all over again on Christmas Day.

Despite not being able to dine together, Matthias feels the community spirit is still alive this Thanksgiving. People have stepped up to volunteer or contribute financially toward the meal. Anyone interested in donating can call the restaurant at 360-699-1592.

Daddy’s back

Donnie Vercher, owner of Daddy D’s BBQ, felt compelled to put on his massive Thanksgiving feast for the community for the eighth year in a row. It’s happening between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today in two locations: Promise Church Woodland at 101 Hillshire Drive and Living Hope Church at 2711 N.E. Andresen Road. As a COVID-19 precaution, seating will not be available at either site. Guests can either drive thru or walk up to get their meal.

“It takes four or five days just to cook it all,” said Vercher, adding that he smokes 55 turkeys and 50 hams in preparation for the event. Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, Hawaiian sweet rolls, cookies and pie are also on the menu.

He anticipates possibly 1,000 guests in Woodland and 2,000 in Vancouver.

“I know the need is out there for the community,” Vercher said. Many are out of work or not able to afford their own Thanksgiving meal. “Those are the people we are trying to reach.”

Fourth Plain feast

Seeds of Greatness Ministries, a new church plant in Vancouver, shifted gears this year. Last Thanksgiving, the group held a meal at the Vancouver Navigation Center, which is now closed.

The Rev. Damion Young still wants to feed people in need along the Fourth Plain corridor or really “anybody who’s looking for a meal fit for a king.”

Besides leading Seeds of Greatness, Young chairs the religious affairs committee for the NAACP Vancouver branch, which is helping put on the grab-and-go meal. Called The Least of These Thanksgiving Dinner, it takes place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at River City Church, 2400 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.

“It’s really all about helping people. It’s about a community giving back in the midst of COVID,” Young said.

Guests, who are asked to wear masks and social distance, can drive up or walk up to get their meal. Young expects to feed about 350 people. The spread includes turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, rolls, cakes and pies.

Anyone interested in donating can contact Karen Morrison at or 360-326-8565. Or, visit for more information.

Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith