This was supposed to be Melodie Chrisman's day off, but the effervescent senior site manager at the Community Services League office in Blue Springs had a few odds and ends to tend to before what was expected to be a busy Wednesday.
A timid knock came to her door, and she politely excused herself from an interview, to visit with a young woman who was in need of help.
Chrisman, who has never turned away someone in need, gave the woman all the information she needed to provide a complete Thanksgiving meal for her family. As a bonus, Chrisman told her to make an appointment to talk about a possible job.
Grinning from ear to ear, with moist eyes, the woman left as a gentle rain began to fall and the chill in the air let everyone know that the holiday season is upon us.
And if Chrisman has her way, every family in Blue Springs and Oak Grove will have a Thanksgiving meal of chicken, ham or turkey, dressing, gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, muffins and a pie.
"If we serve a family of four or fewer people they can select a chicken or ham and all the things that go along with your traditional Thanksgiving dinner," Chrisman said. "If there are five or more family members, they receive a turkey and all the other dinner items.
"Monday, we had a steady line going out the door all day. We've been busy before – really busy, especially during the holidays – but we've never been that busy. Four of our amazing volunteers and I spent all day handing out complete dinners for 80 families."
And while the need is great, so is the generosity.
During the Community Unity Week in Blue Springs, area schools donated 47,000 items, along with cash donations.
"A lot of tears – tears of joy – that week. If someone reads this story, and has no money for a Thanksgiving meal, or just needs to talk to someone here about help with a job, or paying utility bills or anything like that, PLEASE, PLEASE call us (816-229-0033). We're here for you. There are so many wonderful people in Blue Springs and Oak Grove who want to help."
The CSL office, at 200 SW North St. in Blue Springs, will be a beehive of activity today as more families some to seek food and assistance during this holiday season.
The walls are filled with grocery bags full of food, along with other necessities that are sometimes overlooked.
As the holiday season continues, items such as gift cards, especially cards that can be used to purchase gasoline, are a premium, along with household items and toys for children of all ages.
As if on cue, there is another knock at the door.
It's past Rotary Club of Blue Springs president Randy Castle, delivering some items for the Community Services League Christmas Store.
"My first involvement with the Community Services League dates back to the late 1990s," said Castle, a CSL board member for 10 years. "It's such a wonderful and caring operation and Melodie is the perfect person to have families deal with because she is so compassionate and caring."
As Chrisman headed back to her office, she was asked how many families she expected to arrive Wednesday.
"I don't know," she said, as she looked over a stack of folders on her desk, "but I do know this. Everyone one of them will have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal."