Last year, York City School District police officers — along with students, teachers, staff and volunteers — delivered 275 precooked Thanksgiving meals to York City residents who needed them.

Called York Plate Patrol last year, the initiative has grown in size and scope.

"Five hundred meals. That's our goal this year," York City School District Police Chief Mike Muldrow said, adding that last year's effort "blanketed York with a smile, a meal and some love."

Now called York United Plate Patrol, the initiative will once again offer precooked turkey-day meals to people who need them in York City, he said.

This year, folks in Springettsbury Township and Spring Garden Township also are eligible to have Thanksgiving meals delivered to their doors, according to Muldrow, who said police departments from both municipalities will be delivering the meals, as will York City Police.

Anyone living in those three municipalities who can't cook their own Thanksgiving meal is encouraged to text their complete address and the number of meals they need to the York United Plate Patrol hotline, 717-515-6541, Muldrow said.

Volunteers, donations needed: Anyone who wants to volunteer or donate is welcome as well, he said.

"Everyone (who volunteered last year) will tell you ... it was one of the most rewarding things we've ever done," said Muldrow.

Needed are whole turkeys, sheets of precooked turkey or chicken (including fried chicken), macaroni and cheese, dinner rolls, desserts and bottled drinks. Those items can be dropped off during normal business hours at William Penn Senior High School in York City, including on Thanksgiving morning.

Volunteers are asked to show up at 9 a.m. to the high school's cafeteria by using the door closest to the corner of West College and South Pershing avenues, the chief said, adding someone will be posted there to guide volunteers inside.

The entire effort is expected to be over by 2 p.m., leaving volunteers plenty of time to get home to celebrate the holiday with their family and friends.

Last year's stops included York City's elderly residential high-rises, the York YMCA and a local domestic-abuse shelter, according to Muldrow.

"Those families embraced us at their doors," he said. "They said, 'You guys are a blessing.' ... They knew somebody thought enough to extend a kindness to them."

At times, it was emotionally overwhelming for some recipients and volunteers, he said.

BBQ pits lend a hand: Last year, volunteers cooked the turkeys themselves in the high school cafeteria, according to the chief. But this year, Dickey's Barbeque Pit in the West Manchester Town Center took over the job.

"Dickey's Barbeque is actually cooking all of the turkeys for us now," Muldrow said. "They heard we were doing (York United Plate Patrol) and thought it was awesome."

And Mission BBQ along Route 30 in York City will be donating side dishes, he said.

This year's plan, like last year's, is for a group of volunteers and officers to find homeless and transient folks who haven't even requested meals, according to the chief.

Last year, the group walked along the York County Heritage Rail Trail and visited areas where York's homeless frequent, in an effort to make sure even those without homes got a hot holiday meal, Muldrow said.

Seed of change: The chief said he was attending a service at Cornerstone Baptist Church on South Pershing Avenue about a year ago when his pastor, the Rev. Mark Kearse, challenged the congregation to reach out to those who are less fortunate.

Muldrow said he talked about the sermon with York City School District officers, and they all took the message to heart and decided to do something.

"The best way of showing you're thankful ... is to offer resources to somebody else," he said, adding he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from students, district teachers and staff and community members who heard about the effort and wanted to help.

This year, Kearse has challenged the Cornerstone congregation to volunteer with York United Plate Patrol.

"It was really cool for me to have my pastor reach back out to me," Muldrow said.

He said he was even more overwhelmed when York City Police, Springettsbury Township Police and Spring Garden Township Police said they wanted to join in.

"It's an awesome feeling," Muldrow said. "And it was awesome to be able to change the name from York Plate Patrol to York United Plate Patrol."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.


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