Thankfulness can be shown in many forms as an expression of gratitude for what has been received.
Joe and Julie Riggins, owners of The Goat Milk Soap Store, 204 S. Main St., Ottawa, operate a community-minded business. The couple — along with their eight children — are always looking for opportunities to make a difference.
The couple hatched an idea of organizing a Community Thanksgiving Meal. Julie Riggins announced the event with a Facebook post and the idea grew. The meal will be served starting at 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at Pizza Time, 208 S. Main St., Ottawa.
The Rigginses said in a Facebook post: “Thanksgiving is a time to gather around the table among friends and family, but many people may be spending it alone. If you or someone you know has nowhere to go this year, our doors will be open with food on the table and joy in our hearts.”
The Rigginses came up with the idea last year, but it was too late to organize the event.
“We decided we would do it this year,” Julie Riggins said. “Because there is so many people hurting this time of year whether they lost someone, a widower, they don’t have family in this area or estranged from their family. We want to make sure everyone is welcome. It was a great opportunity to give back to the community.”
When the Rigginses posted the Facebook announcement, they did so without thinking how it would unfold.
“We know that God will provide and he’s got a plan,” Julie said. “If someone does not have a place to go, we welcome them in. It is not about us, it is about serving the community. That is what we wanted to be when we opened the store, to be able to serve the community. Anybody who wants to come, regardless where they are at in life, they are welcome. If they don’t want to eat, stop in and say hello, play a board game and have fun. Forget about the troubles of the day. We told people, who do have some place to go, they are welcome to stop by (and visit).”
The couple received food donations and if anything else is needed, it will be purchased, Julie said.
“The community has been great, saying ‘how can we help,’ ” she said. “We will cook everything and bring it into the (Pizza Time). Whatever food is leftover, if it has been cooked, we will have it (out) again on Black Friday, so people can have snacks when they come in [to shop]. If it has not been cooked, we will donate it to either Hope House or ECKAN.”
Julie said to help with the amount of food preparation, people can RSVP by stopping in the store or calling 913-972-5491.
“We will not turn anybody away,” she said. “The nice thing about being a small business owner you get to know people. There are some very personal relationships you develop as a small business owner. I would not trade that for anything.”
The Riggins children will help prepare the food, Julie said.
“The kids are excited,” she said. “Our oldest daughter said to me, ‘I think this will be really fun.’ The kids are all on board. They know it will take some work. We will all have to work together. The great thing about a large family, when we set our minds to something, we can get it done in a timely manner because many hands make for light work. Our kids have promised to carry on this tradition. If we teach our kids anything, we want to teach them to be kind. Kindness goes a long way.”