ROGERSVILLE — Amy Puckett knows a thing or two about feeding a massive number of people at Thanksgiving. She has been doing it for 10 years.
But this year, she is adding muscle to her routine, having solicited the help of the Lauderdale County High School football team.
On Thursday, the team will be at the Rogersville Senior Center serving the Thanksgiving meal they helped prepare. Puckett, who owns Rogersville Funeral Home, prepares the feast yearly and this year plans to feed about 150 people who wouldn’t otherwise have a warm Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Though the Tigers have plenty on their minds preparing for Friday night’s third round 3A playoff matchup with Deshler, team members said they want to give back to the community they love.
“We go out and play football week after week and this community supports us like crazy, every game,” senior D.J. Simmons said. “This is just one way we can give back to them. I’ve never spent much time in the kitchen, really, but this was a good opportunity for us to thank this town so I had to learn.”
The team members who are helping include about 25 student athletes, the starting offensive and defensive line, and seniors.
Puckett said the idea of drafting help from the football team seemed the logical thing to do.
Her son, Bryan, is a part of the team and has helped her prepare Thanksgiving meals the past 10 years.
The senior tight end/nose guard said it wasn’t long after his family moved to Rogersville 12 years ago that his mom began the Thanksgiving tradition. Having been raised to give back to the community, Bryan said, he has never known any other kind of Thanksgiving.
“These guys on my team, we’re tight and we’ve been playing together for a lot of years but we also just really love being around each other,” he said. “It’s not just about football with us. We’ll get out and deliver meals, too, and when you see how happy it makes them, it’s all worth it. We care about how people see us and we want to maintain a good image, beyond just football.”
On Tuesday night the team got a lot of the prep work out of the way, after a three-hour practice.
While Coach Bob Grisham’s focus is on preparing for his next game, he keeps the big picture in mind, said senior linebacker Ethan Cox.
“We’ve done other projects and our coaches have always pushed us to do work in the community,” Cox said. “Coach Grisham has helped us with football for sure, but he’s made us better people, too.”
But the softheartedness ends there, Cox laughed, saying the coaches expect the players to juggle serving the community on Thursday with football practice and family time.
“We’ll practice, then go serve at the Senior Center, then eat with our own families,” Cox said. “But it’s going to be fun. I’ve played with these guys since sixth grade and this year we have the chance to go all they way (to the state championship) and we’re committed. It’s the most committed group I’ve ever been a part of.”
As for Amy Puckett, the preparation for feeding 150 people started Saturday.
“I love to cook so that helps,” she said. “I have 16 pans of dressing on my table right now. We’ll have turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, desserts and rolls. It’s a blast. Seeing the kids enjoying serving others is like a gift to me. These guys are so gelled as a team that it has really just carried over into other aspects of their lives.”
Senior Tyler Smith said there’s just something about the feeling of giving back.
“This just makes our season that much more special,” Smith said. “This is the biggest project we’ve taken on but we know how to come together and get things done. It sounds cliche but it feels good to give back, especially when we can all be together.”
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.