Martin Luther King Center executive director Jerry Jones said Monday he was “completely amazed and humbled to share” that the community center cooked, served and delivered 7,000 free Thanksgiving meals over the weekend to the QC community.

That doubled the MLK Center’s record high last year and far surpasses their goal of 5,000, Jones said in an email.

Volunteers prepare free Thanksgiving meals for the community at the MLK Center, Rock Island, on Nov. 18, 2022 (photo by Bryan Bobb).

“Please allow me to draw your attention directly to HyVee. Their support was far and above expectations,” Jones wrote. “Initially, they generously agreed to provide the dressing and potatoes for which we were over the moon grateful, then they went on to offer to be on call all weekend to replenish supplies; then went on to provide coffee, cider, hot chocolate and delicious treats for our volunteers, and then donated hams as our turkey supply began to run low.

“Each time, they asked, ‘what else can we do?’,” Jones noted. “HyVee has our most enthusiastic appreciation and we hope you can help us express it publicly.” 

Of the total deliveries, curbside pickups and walk-in meals, approximately 1,600 meals were served on Friday, 3,000 on Saturday, and 2,400 on Sunday.

“This is one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of. There are so many people to thank and acknowledge for this success,” Jones said Monday.

Many of the deliveries were to low-income residences, senior residences, and police and fire
departments throughout the Quad Cities. Many of the meals were delivered by Rock Island
business Dohrn Transfer. Five hundred meals were distributed on Saturday November 19 via TMBC at the Lincoln Center in Davenport.

Hundreds of community members from throughout the QC came through the drive-through curbside service at the MLK Center in Rock Island

Key partners for the holiday meals included TMBC @ The Lincoln Center, who made it possible for the King Center to have a first-time distribution site in Davenport; Dohrn Transfer, and Two Rivers YMCA; primary cooks Carl Johnson, Chef Keys, Connie Buchanan, and NEST Café, as well as the more than 225 volunteers it took to put on the event, Jones said.

The Thanksgiving sponsors, in addition to HyVee, include Deere & Company, the Moline Foundation, Quad City Bank & Trust, Rock Island Township, UnityPoint Health Trinity, Whitey’s Ice Cream, Huiskamp Collins Investments LLC, Eaton, Cribbs Landscaping, South Rock Island Township, Liberty Packaging, and Jim’s Rib Haven.

“This event genuinely embodies our mission to inspire greatness in the Quad Cities through community building and service and casts a clear light on our vision of a beloved community rooted in justice, equity and respect for one another,” Jones said. “It allows us all to be good neighbors and show love for our Quad City community.”