Alma Kiddie Kollege will offer free Thanksgiving meals to the public on Thanksgiving Day.

Alma Kiddie Kollege, a branch of Western Arkansas Child Development, will host a traditional holiday meal on Thanksgiving Day, free and open to the public, said Malinda McSpadden, who heads the WACD Feeding the Hungry program.

This year the organization will be preparing food for about 700, McSpadden said. Guests can dine in or pick up their meal, or have it delivered if they live in the Alma School District.

“We will do takeout or dine in for anybody, it doesn’t matter,” McSpadden said.

The dinner, including delivery and pick up, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kiddie Kollege at 14 W. Cherry St. in Alma.

Those who wish to participate must call by Wednesday, Nov. 22, to reserve their meals, McSpadden said.

Feeding hungry children, their families and others in need is one of the main focuses of WACD, McSpadden said.

McSpadden often tells the story of a man who was delivered a meal through the program a few years ago. The man insisted on making a donation to WACD, an envelope filled with about 81 cents.

“I keep that envelope in a drawer in my kitchen as a reminder,” McSpadden said. “That’s why we do it. That’s why we do what we do.”

Free food boxes with non-perishables will be given out with the free meals, she said.

Volunteers are highly needed to help execute the dinner, McSpadden said. At least 100 volunteers are needed for food preparation in the week leading up to the meal, meal and food box packaging, and food delivery, she said.

All food provided by WACD is donated or purchased with donations, and the group is still working to meet their goal, McSpadden said. Donated money or food items are welcome, she said.

“I’m going to need at least another 300 desserts,” McSpadden said.

Non-perishable items are being collected in a Razor Box pod container outside of the Alma Kiddie Kollege.

Any money raised that is not used for the Thanksgiving dinner will be used to purchase food items for the Blessing Boxes - tiny food pantries - outside of the WACD schools and Christmas food boxes for local families, McSpadden said.

Last year the program fed about 700 people, McSpadden said. Food was delivered to about 380 people, and about 320 picked up takeout meals, she said.

To reserve a meal, volunteer or donate, call (479) 651-2902. This is the eighth year the childcare center has hosted the free meal.