H.A.R.K. Thanksgiving Meal program feeds 1,578

Posted December 4, 2019 at 4:08 pm


For the past seven years Clinton County has come together as a community during Thanksgiving and has became the epicenter for one of the biggest Thanksgiving Meals in the area. This year, 1,578 meals were delivered or served in Clinton County to those in need of a hot meal.

Melissa Tallent, along with daughter Kiley Hoppe, are the muscle behind this idea.

What started as a way for high school students to provide a community service has turned into the founding of the H.A.R.K. Foundation (Helping At Risk Kids) and a way to expand the outreach to more than just inside the boarders of Clinton County.

For the past couple of years, the H.A.R.K. Foundation Thanksgiving Meal has been working out of Clear Fork Baptist Church Fellowship Hall where most of the meals are prepared and packaged.

Thursday morning early there were plenty of people on hand in different stations putting boxes together, pulling ham apart, fixing desserts and many other tasks in order to put each meal together for those in need.

When Tallent started this project with a small group of seniors, she never dreamed it would be this big after such a short time.

“We feel like we are so blessed. It was something that was pressed upon our hearts and it was something we did based on blind faith and a feeling that this is what God wanted us to do,” Tallent said. “The meal went amazing this year. We changed some things up- one being Hunter smoked most of the turkeys and what he couldn’t do Steve Peddicord did. These two guys not only smoked the turkeys but picked them up and delivered them back.”

Most stations had specialties they worked on, then once those were done, those specialties came together so the meals could be delivered or served.

“We prepared and cooked all of the dressing at Pickett County schools. Clear Fork crew boxed most of the meals, did the mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberry salad,” Tallent said. “We have, throughout the last seven years, developed a Thanksgiving family with some of the kids who started this crazy adventure with Kiley and I are still here, which grows each year. This team of volunteers work tirelessly to prepare, cook, serve, and deliver these meals. We are one big very blessed and sometimes dysfunctional family.”

All in all, the H.A.R.K. Foundation’s Community Thanksgiving Meal served a total of 3,009 meals in four counties including, Clinton, Overton, Pickett and Jackson counties.


Several people were on hand early Thanksgiving morning to prepare boxes of meals to be passed out or delivered for the day. Above, several hams were being pulled in order to go into the meal boxes.

Below left, Hunter Shearer and Mike Duvall with Hunter’s Hickory Smoked Bar-B-Que unloaded several turkeys Thursday morning they had cooked the night before. Shearer said he ended up smoking 84 turkeys for the event. Below right, Aspen Stearns and her family were one of several families on hand Thursday donating their time to fix boxes for meals for those in need for the Community Thanksgiving Meal.

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