La Grange families unite to whip up Thanksgiving feast
Myra Stuart (from left), April Lacey-Hill, and April's mother Lynn Lacey unpack some of the groceries they'll be using to prepare a holiday meal for about 200 needy people in the area. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 1:56AM
LA GRANGE — With God’s grace, eight turkeys and all the trimmings, two La Grange families are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for quite a crowd.
The Lacey and Hill families are rolling up their sleeves, unpacking a case of canned yams and preparing to peel a mountain of potatoes for their 12th annual Thanksgiving dinner for the less fortunate.
Up to 150 guest are expected, who are either without a home or would otherwise be home alone, from noon to 5 p.m. at the La Grange Community Center, 200 Washington Ave.
The event, preceded by an all-night cooking fest, is a family affair.
“Once we get up Wednesday morning, we don’t go back to sleep until Thursday night. We try to rest on Friday,” said April Lacey-Hill. “God has blessed us with our health and strength to be able to do it.”
The kitchen crew includes Lacey-Hill, her husband, Damon Hill, and their sons, Aaron, 13 and Alexander, 7, who make pound cake from scratch. Around the corner, Lynn Lacey and her husband, Chester, give their oven and stove a workout, and their son, Ramon, also helps.
“We do everything as a team,” Lacey-Hill said.
Half of the turkeys are cooked in a deep fryer, and the rest are baked. The menu includes dressing, honey-baked ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans, sweet potatoes, succotash, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and other desserts.
Close friends Myra and Brad Stewart from Joliet also deep fry several turkeys and make mounds of cranberry relish. Pam Landry from Bolingbrook is collecting clothes and toiletries for guests in need or for those at area shelters.
“Sometimes we do have food left over, so we allow people to take things home, or we’ll drive to lower Wacker Drive or wherever there’s a need,” Lacey-Hill said.
Though the two families depend on many volunteers to set up, serve and clean up, Lacy-Hill and her mom prefer to do the cooking themselves.
“I’m a caterer, and I like to have everything consistent and in order,” Lacey-Hill said. Compliments make the effort worthwhile, she said.
Donations are supplied by the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Westchester, First National Bank of La Grange, CommUnity Diversity Group, DeVries Grocery, Kirschbaum’s Bakery, Tischler’s Grocery in Brookfield, Toni Marie Sweets, NAACP, Second Baptist Church of La Grange and the Sign of the Cross Church.
“Just because you’re down on your luck, you shouldn’t have to go without or spend Thanksgiving alone,” Lacey-Hill said. “I lost my job six years ago, and if it wasn’t for God’s grace and mercy it could be me. I’ve been blessed.”