ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) – For the past 23 years Mark Ison has helped make Thanksgiving a memorable one for many people in the Ashland area.
“It went from six hundred people to sixteen hundred people,” Ison said.
Over the years he and a group of volunteers have reached out and given back to the community by providing meals to those in need on Thanksgiving.
“I did take it for granted over the years that there were not really that many people that needed it,” Ison said.
That was until he started volunteering at the Elks Lodge in Ashland, Kentucky.
He has since spent every Thanksgiving at the lodge, preparing food for anyone who needs a meal or just someone to spend time with during the holiday.
Stephen Brislin stopped by the lodge to deliver meals to some friends and sat down to have one for himself, reflecting on his old holiday tradition at home.
“We probably had 15 people and by the end of the day maybe 20 some might walk through,” Brislin said. “We just opened the doors and everybody, neighbors included, knew they were welcome in our home.”
His family has moved, but still celebrates in the evening. During the day he spends time at the lodge, “It nice just to be around people on the holiday when people don’t have family anymore,” said Brislin.
More than just a meal, the event brings the whole community together.
“This is my family right here on Thanksgiving,” Ison said.