The Caring Kitchen in Urbana and the St. Paris Federation of Churches once again are partnering to serve Thanksgiving Day dinner to over 500 individuals throughout Champaign County on Nov. 23. The shelter at 300 Miami St. will be open for a sit-down dinner from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and food deliveries will be made from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“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. We welcome anyone living in this awesome community to come join us for a hot, delicious meal.”
The St. Paris Federation of Churches will serve Thanksgiving Day dinner from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Graham Elementary School, 9464 W. U.S. Route 36.
“We wanted to concentrate on people coming together as a community and sharing a meal,” said Katie Miller, co-organizer of the meal in St. Paris along with her nephew-in-law Matt Turner. “We do a lot of meal delivery as well, but the whole idea is to get people together and eating together, especially if they’re normally alone or can’t get out of their house easily.”
According to Cohn, the Caring Kitchen received 500-550 guests last year and expect the same number this year. They also provide deliveries for emergency personnel and shut-ins. St. Paris had 275 diners at last year’s meal and sent out several hundred meals.
This is the 27th year the Caring Kitchen has provided a Thanksgiving meal, which consists of turkey, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and pie.
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. Individuals requesting delivery of a meal in St. Paris, or who wish to arrange pickup of donated items, may call the First Church of God at 937-663-4441.
“While we prefer people to call ahead, no one will be turned away,” Cohn said.
Volunteers willing to donate their time or money to the effort may call the same number. Donated items can be dropped off at the Caring Kitchen 24 hours a day. According to Cohn, needed items include turkeys, large cans of green beans or sweet potatoes, rolls, eggs, butter, cranberries and pies.
“We just want to welcome everyone who comes out, whether they’re there to eat or there to help out,” Miller said. “We do our best to find a job for anyone who wants to volunteer, because there is always a lot to do the day of the event. I will probably be there at 6:30 a.m. that morning if anyone wants to drop off donations.”
“We definitely need volunteers to help us set up, cook, serve, deliver and clean up,” Cohn added. “If we didn’t have volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to offer the Thanksgiving meal to the community.”
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.