A 30-year tradition continues this year to provide Thanksgiving cheer and camaraderie to local residents.
First-year community Thanksgiving dinner organizer Debi Rhines said preparation is under way to organize the dinner, with volunteers sought to help in a variety of areas.
The dinner, paid for by an anonymous donor, is an opportunity for all to share in the holiday.
“The purpose of this event is to provide a free Thanksgiving dinner, with all the trimmings, to all who wish to participate: rich, poor, young, old, singles, couples and families,” Rhines said.
The dinner, held at St. Jude Parish Center, provides Thanksgiving meals to hundreds of residents in the area, including meals delivered to people who can’t get out.
Hundreds typically coZed.
Rhines stressed that people who need holiday meals delivered Thanksgiving morning have to call the North Central Senior Citizen’s Center at 265-5464 no later than 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 23.
“My main concern is the people who need their dinner get their call in,” Rhines said.
The work will begin Wednesday, Nov. 23, with volunteers preparing the kitchen and vegetable relish trays.
Then, early Thanksgiving Day, the work begins for the main meal, readying turkey, rolls and pies cooked by Gary & Leo’s Fresh Foods and setting up the delivery meals.
Those meals are delivered between 9:30and 11:30 a.m., while the main dining area and serving areas are prepared.
The meal is served in the dining hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with no take-out meals available — all meals out of the hall have to be requested for delivery.
Rhines said she is looking for volunteers in a variety of areas, including to provide entertainment during the dinner.
“People who want to be in the dining room for an hour and show their talents, whatever they may be,” she said.
Other areas in which she needs volunteers include people to work on the serving line; people to help in the kitchen; people to set up the dining room, including cleaning tables, cutting pies, scraping dishes, and so on; people to help with the relish trays and stuffing, and people to help with cleaning up afterward.
Rhines said she has been aided in her first year of working on the event by the advice and notes of previous dinner organizers Kitty Williams and Alan Sorensen, and by the people heading up the teams of the well-oiled system.
Peter Bruni again is the head chef, and Rhines said Gus Sharp is taking over for Brian Morse in leading the “delivery cavalry” that takes out the delivered meals, while John Chapman handles the coffee service.
Rhines again stressed that people who need meals delivered must call the Senior Citizens Center the day before Thanksgiving — the delivery meals must be prepared the day before and no takeout will be available at the dining room.
People who wish to volunteer for any of the services needed at the dinner can call Rhines at work at 265-6900, or at home at 265-2737.
Rhines said she expects the event, as always, to run smoothly.
“It’s going to be exciting,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”