COLUMBIA — Grief won't keep Thanksgiving dinner off the table this year.
Although founder and organizer Almeta Crayton died Monday, Everyone Eats! is still on for this year.
In its 16th year, the program gives away baskets of food, delivers free meals and provides a free community dinner every Thanksgiving Day.
Some details are up in the air for this year: Marcus Buford said the community dinner and basket giveaway are on, but meal delivery is uncertain. Buford is the founder of Operation KITE — Keeping in Touch Eternally — and has worked with Crayton in the past.
Thanksgiving Day dinner will be held in Stamper Commons at Stephens College.
Buford said Crayton's son, Tyrone, will take over the program.
"We're going to see it through next year as well," Buford said. "We're just trying to iron out all the wrinkles after losing Miss Almeta."
At the 2012 Thanksgiving dinner, 411 people were fed. The Missourian reported that Everyone Eats! provided about 50 turkeys and 20 hams, stuffing, vegetables and dessert that year.
This Thanksgiving's events will be difficult without Crayton, but Buford said everyone involved with Everyone Eats! hopes to carry on for her.
"The program is going to go forward. We just want to be certain as to how much we can get done," he said. "Some information she took with her in passing. It all came around unexpectedly. ... It's kind of taken everybody by surprise."
Everyone Eats! volunteer Scott Cristal said when Crayton was hospitalized on Oct. 8, he thinks planning was "put on the back burner."
"She was just getting started when this happened," Cristal said.
Buford said more details about this year's events will be decided after Crayton's funeral. The date for the funeral has not been set.
"We're really wanting to give her a proper send-off and lay her to rest before we start to concern ourselves with other things, such as carrying on her legacy," he said.
Supervising Editor is Elizabeth Brixey.