It’s icy on Thanksgiving Day in Kirksville, Missouri, and there’s a line winding around a small white building. People from different walks of life hold up a plate to get a home-cooked meal and sit down, talking amiably with their neighbors. Everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a meal and find a sense of comfort, regardless of their past.
This was made possible by the Community Mission, located at 402 North Elson St. Community Mission is an organization run by managers Ron and Debra Fischer and receives much of its revenue from its thrift store proceeds that pay for meal preparations across the street at its soup kitchen. The store is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and serves lunch Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Debra Fischer said the main purpose of Community Mission is to help the Kirksville community. During the winter months, they give away blankets and warm attire like hats, gloves and boots.
“Once it gets in your blood, it’s there,” Debra Fischer said. “You see the looks on the people’s faces, it just grabs your heart. It’s wonderful.”
The Fischers took over the Community Mission in October 2017 and have devoted their time to giving people a fresh start, whether it be giving furniture, pans and kitchenware to a family whose house burnt down, or providing a warm meal as Kirksville becomes ensheathed in a layer of ice.
The soup kitchen feeds people daily and is strictly run by its thrift store proceeds and donations from local businesses and the community. They strive to make all food from scratch and to create a well-balanced meal for the public.
To support Community Mission, several Kirksville businesses like Walmart, Aldi and Hy-Vee help by contributing food, such as extra produce or baked goods. Several of the churches in the area also help support the Community Mission through donations as well as volunteering their time.
“Hy-Vee gives us bread, cakes, and we share it with the public,” Debra Fischer said. “We use what we can for the kitchen to help feed people and pass the blessings on further to help feed people.”
Ron Fischer is a retired preacher and advocates for serving people both physically and spiritually. The Community Mission is a Christian organization and serves as a safe area for the community to come together. Before he serves the food, he gives a short sermon to tell people about God.
The Community Mission typically serves around 60 people a day, but the cold weather has made it more difficult for families to travel because of the ice. During the holidays, the Mission will help anywhere between 100-200 people daily. Last year, they had around 175 people come in for Christmas.
“Here it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor,” Debra Fischer said. “Everybody comes in, they joke, they laugh, they talk, they visit. That’s what makes your heart happy.”