When we arrived at the Polish Club in west Denver, we found probably 25 volunteers there already, some busy stirring in pots in the kitchen. Others were opening cans of fruit and green beans and pouring them into large aluminum pans. By 9 am 50-75 more people had arrived. Joe and Barb have been coordinating this Thanksgiving dinner for eight years in memory of Barb's dad. Local housing authorities give them the names of residents who would appreciate a hot meal for their family on Thanksgiving. This year the plan was to deliver meals to 3500 people.
We were assigned to one of three serving lanes. I poured gravy over turkey (1200 pounds had been cooked on Tuesday), mashed potatoes and stuffing. John dished out fruit. Other volunteers carried two take-out boxes from server to server. This went on for nearly three hours, until all 3500 boxes were filled with Thanksgiving dinner. As each box was filled, another volunteer covered the fruit and beans with plastic wrap so the gravy didn't run into those sections of the box. Then the box and a cookie were tied in a plastic bag and stacked for the drivers, who arrived at 11 am. When we left at 12 almost all the meals were on their way to hungry people and the clean-up crew was hard at work.
Volunteers ranged in age from pre-teens to senior citizens, with a large number of 20- and 30-somethings. The project is a family tradition for a number of the volunteers. This is only one of many Thanksgiving feeding programs in our community this year, one of thousands or tens of thousands across the country. Especially in tough times like we are facing right now in the US, it is encouraging to see so many people giving part of their holiday to share with others.
When our volunteer work was done, we went home to rest for a short while, and then we joined our family for turkey. Each year our son, Eric, and his wife, Liz, host the family Thanksgiving dinner. This year four of Liz's six brothers and sisters were there with their families—many of the children are in college or beyond. Liz's dad and wife were there as well. I think our group numbered over 30. We ate our fill and caught up on each other's lives since last Thanksgiving. What a blessing to be surrounded by family.
Today we will cook our own turkey—how else can we have leftovers?