Woman's tradition of helping continues to grow - WSMV News 4

Woman's tradition of helping continues to grow

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Members of the community help prepare one of the 2,500 food boxes that will be given to the elderly and shut-in. (WSMV) Members of the community help prepare one of the 2,500 food boxes that will be given to the elderly and shut-in. (WSMV)

What started 29 years ago with one woman feeding eight shut-ins has become an annual event that feeds more than 2,500.

Scores of volunteers gathered at a church in Germantown Thursday morning  to cook, pack and deliver Thanksgiving meals to the elderly and needy.

Gerry Searcy began the tradition in honor of her disabled son, who has since passed away. The spirit of giving has taken on a life of its own.

Many of the same volunteers have returned every Thanksgiving for decades.

Searcy knows the movers and shakers at the Davidson County courthouse and wasn’t afraid to ask them to help

A row of judges traded their gavels for plastic gloves and scoops to serve up stuffing and vegetables instead of sentences.

Retired District Attorney Torry Johnson has been volunteering for some 25 years.

"She wants to know how did you start coming to this?" Searcy said to Johnson.

"Cause you told me to!" he replied.

“I’ll see people and they’ll say ‘I’ll see you at Thanksgiving.’ Cause this is what everybody does. Look at the crowd here!” Johnson said.

“This is how Thanksgiving starts,” said former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell.

Searcy, now 75, worked in the clerk’s office at the courthouse. She recruited all of her coworkers.

"I told them about it on my job and I worked in the courts, so, lawyers, and coworkers and judges, and the mayor and all of them, they started coming to help," Searcy said.

"At first I told ‘em, and now they just know to come. And it's a lot of fun,” she said.

It takes an army to assemble and deliver all the dinners. Vans and pickups lined the curb ready for boxes of dinners, which are delivered by the hundreds to high-rises for the elderly and to shut-ins and the disabled.

New volunteers are always welcome to lend a hand. 

Davidson County Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite said she received an invitation from Juvenile Court Clerk David Smith. 

She offered to send a check, but he encouraged her to come in person and giver her time. She brought her brother and sister-in-law.

"I'll be here next year, now!"  Wilhoite said.

"This is just amazing! I love this! And this is so wonderful and everybody is so excited about giving. It makes me almost want to cry. I mean, this is what Thanksgiving is really all about."

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