Assistance needed for annual Thanksgiving meals

Caring Kitchen in Urbana and the St. Paris Federation of Churches are once again teaming up in hopes of preventing Champaign County residents from going hungry or being lonely on Thanksgiving.

“This is a huge event that is important for many reasons,” Caring Kitchen Executive Director Marilyn Cohn said. “As a community, it’s a chance to get together and serve each other, and it’s also a time to be thankful.”

For residents living in the Urbana, Mechanicsburg, Triad and West Liberty-Salem school districts, Caring Kitchen will be serving up all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 26 at 300 Miami St. Carryout or home delivery will be available beginning at 10:30 a.m.

As in past years, the meal will consist of turkey and dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and pie.

“We welcome anyone living in this awesome community to come join us for a hot, delicious meal,” Cohn said.

Individuals dining in, picking up or requesting delivery of a meal are asked to make reservations by calling the Caring Kitchen at 937-653-8443 by Nov. 25.

“While we prefer people call ahead, no one will be turned away,” Cohn said.

Last Thanksgiving, Cohn said the Caring Kitchen served a total of 500 meals thanks in large part to those who donated time and money to the effort.

“We definitely need volunteers to help us set up, cook, serve, deliver and clean up,” Cohn said, adding setup will begin taking place on Nov. 23.

Individuals wanting to volunteer can do so by calling 653-8443.

“If we didn’t have volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to offer the Thanksgiving meal to the community,” Cohn said.

Along with volunteers, Cohn said, she is also in need of donations.

“This year we need turkeys, sweet potatoes, green beans, pies and dinner rolls,” she said. “We will take donations until the day of.

“This event is a great time for the community to pull together to help those who are shut-ins or less fortunate,” Cohn added.

In keeping with tradition, meals will also be delivered to emergency personnel working on Thanksgiving throughout the county.

Churches come together to serve meals

People residing in western Champaign County are invited to Graham Elementary School, 9464 W. U.S. Route 36, from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 26, for the annual Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner hosted by the St. Paris Federation of Churches.

“If you are going to be alone on Thanksgiving or can’t have your family over for a meal, please come to one of these locations (St. Paris or Urbana) as we fellowship and give thanks to God on Thanksgiving,” said Patty Fonseca, a member of the St. Paris First Church of God who assists the church with event publicity. “If you do plan to celebrate with loved ones or friends, bring them along, too. Come with family or friends, or come make some new friends.”

As with any event of this stature, organizers are seeking volunteers to help before, during and after the holiday gathering.

“Help is needed to continue the long tradition of serving Thanksgiving Day meals to hundreds of Champaign County residents again this year,” Fonseca said.

Along with assisting with meal preparation, serving and delivering food, and cleanup, anyone interested in helping to peel over 200 pounds of potatoes are asked to arrive at Graham Elementary School at 10 a.m. on Nov. 25. Individual wanting to volunteer are asked to call 937-663-4441 and leave their contact information.

Last year, approximately 500 meals were served to those in western Champaign County thanks to not only volunteers, but also to those who donated to the event.

“There is no cost to attend the dinners as they are provided as a gift of love by many churches, organizations, businesses and individuals,” Fonseca said. “Food and monetary donations help make these meals possible.”

This year’s meal will consist of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, Jell-O with fruit, rolls, pie and cake.

“We are still especially in need of donations of rolls, pies and cakes,” Fonseca said.

Along with dine-in, carryout and delivery will also be available. Homebound individuals or those without transportation can have their meals delivered on Thanksgiving Day by calling 937-663-4441.

“We look forward to Thanksgiving Day each year as a chance to serve others and to fellowship with old and new friends,” Fonseca said. “We concentrate on delivering in the western part of the county, especially the Graham Local School District, but we still deliver anywhere in the county where we get requests. We also try to reach out to those who work on the holiday such as first responders, store clerks … etc. to take them a hot meal.”

Organizers seek volunteers, donations

By Joshua Keeran

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.