Mel Trotter Ministries annual Thanksgiving banquet changing approach

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (October 30, 2020) — Mel Trotter Ministries (MTM) announced it has finalized the new plan for its annual Thanksgiving banquet. “In an abundance of caution, care and concern for everyone involved in this amazing event, including our guests, staff, community volunteers, and all those who come to eat and enjoy fellowship on Thanksgiving, we have worked through the necessary details in order to continue this tradition,” said Beth Fisher, VP of Communication and Advancement at Mel Trotter Ministries.

MTM’s annual Turkey Drop, a yearly event taking place the week before Thanksgiving at Celebration North and South Cinema locations, whereby the community drops off either frozen turkeys or $15 towards the purchase of one, is set for Wednesday, November 18th from 7am – 7pm. Last year, over 1,600 turkeys were donated; however, this year—the need and thus, the goal, is even greater.

“We have already had requests from local pantries in excess of 1,850 turkeys, along with sides,” said Jeff Dashner, Chief Operating Officer at MTM. “We are already seeing a significant uptick in the number of meals needed for Thanksgiving Day.”

The goal this year is 2,500 turkeys to be donated during Turkey Drop. Those turkeys, along with complete traditional side items, will then be used in assembled food boxes which will be distributed to local West Michigan food pantries. Anyone who would have normally gone to DeVos Place for the annual banquet will now be able to receive a prepackaged Thanksgiving meal via any participating pantry.

“We are grateful to still be able to serve those in our community who would otherwise not be able to partake in a Thanksgiving meal,” said Dennis Van Kampen, President and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries. “The thought of anyone who would normally have come to DeVos Place to celebrate and commune together during our annual Thanksgiving Banquet, not being able to do that this year due to Covid was quite frankly, unacceptable. We worked hard to find a way.”

That way also includes a Thanksgiving Day meal at Mel Trotter Ministries for all those experiencing homelessness. MTM expects to serve over 500 meals on Thanksgiving Day. The celebration will take place from 11am – 1pm. Hundreds of community volunteers who look forward to the event each year have been notified of an alternative way to continue their tradition of serving those less fortunate.

“We sent a communication to our incredible volunteers encouraging them to reach out to a neighbor or community member who might be struggling a little more than normal this year—someone who might not have loved ones with whom to gather—and bless them by bringing a meal or a pie to brighten their day,” Fisher said. “Additionally, our volunteers are encouraged to let the guests at our onsite Thanksgiving Day meal know they are thinking of them by sending in thoughtful video messages throughout the day and using the hashtag #MTMThanksgiving on social media.”

To donate a food box or become a Thanksgiving Day sponsor, please visit


About Mel Trotter Ministries

Established in 1900, Mel Trotter Ministries exists to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ, through rescue and restoration for anyone experiencing hunger and homelessness. MTM seeks to help end homelessness and walk with people on their faith journey. For more information about Mel Trotter Ministries, visit or call 616-588-8792.