Volunteers make sure holiday meals go out to shut-ins

Volunteers and organizations are going the extra mile to help make sure there is enough turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberries to feed anyone who is hungry.

A traditional family-style Thanksgiving Day Dinner will be held at the Hessel Valley Lutheran Church in Chandlers Valley at 1 p.m. Thursday again this year. The traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings will be served family-style. In order for organizers to be sure to have room and food for everyone, reservations should be made by calling 489-3297.

A Community Dinner will be served at the Sheffield United Methodist Church on Thanksgiving Day. Take-outs and deliveries are available by pre-ordering at 814-319-6168. The dinner will be served from 1 to 3 p.m. for a donation.

On a larger scale, Thanksgiving Dinner deliveries have been made throughout Warren and Forest counties for many years by a cooperation of churches. Volunteers from Trinity Memorial Episcopal, First Lutheran, St. Paul’s Lutheran, St. Johns Lutheran and St. Francis of Assissi Episcopal gather together to prepare and deliver turkey and the trimmings to referrals from Meals on Wheels, Hospice and the Area Agency on Aging.

Ian Hinsdale, who coordinates the delivery routes, said on Wednesday that around 250 individual meals are delivered to destinations as far away as beyond Tionesta and to Cook Forest, although there may be several meals delivered to a single household. He said similar meal deliveries are also made on Christmas and Easter.

“They will be preparing the meals this week, and we’ll meet Thanksgiving morning to load up the delivery drivers,” he said.

The program is paid for by grants and donations.

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church will host the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving Dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday. Volunteers began setting up tables and chairs in the gym on Wednesday, and getting 22 turkeys ready to cook. Major Margaret Starnes of the Salvation Army said that volunteering to cook and serve the dinner is a tradition going back at least 30 years. The tradition is strong enough that the same people perform the same tasks each year, including cutting the pies.

In addition to the community volunteers cooking and serving at St. Joseph’s, there are over 30 volunteers working behind the scenes.

Starnes added that over 50 turkeys were donated this year; remaining birds will be used for Christmas baskets.