Volunteers needed for Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner

There may not be a community Thanksgiving dinner this year, but around 100 volunteers are still needed for the drive-through pickup and delivery event in Jamestown, co-chairs Sue Corwin and Amy Neustel said.

Dinner is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, which is Thursday, November 25. People will pick up their meals at the Concordia Lutheran Church instead of having dinner at the church. Delivery will also be offered as in previous years.

“In a typical year it’s around 640,650 but we’re planning on 700 (meals),” Neustel said.

This will be the 30th annual dinner which is free for everyone and consists of a traditional Thanksgiving meal: turkey, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, cranberries and pumpkin bars.

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Neustel and Corwin have chaired the dinner since the death of dinner founder Fritz Buegel. But the standard plans long used by the co-chairs needed some tweaking, with dinner turned into a drive-through event due to COVID, Neustel said.

“We spoke with the (Jamestown) Police Department to check if there are any issues they wanted us to fix with this idea and they made the suggestion” on traffic, she said.

The church is located at 502 First Ave. North. Those picking up the lunches are asked to drive north on First Avenue, pass the church, turn east (right) at the end of the block, then turn south into the alley to take the meal. No reservations are needed to have a meal, Neustel said. People can just come from 11 a.m.

This map shows the planned route for motorists picking up drive-through meals for the Thanksgiving Community Dinner.  Motorists should enter at First Avenue North, turn right onto 6th Street Northeast, then turn into the lane.  google earth map

This map shows the planned route for motorists picking up drive-through meals for the Thanksgiving Community Dinner. Motorists should enter at First Avenue North, turn right onto 6th Street Northeast, then turn into the lane. google earth map

“We hope to have enough volunteers, so it should go pretty quickly,” Neustel said.

Volunteers will direct traffic and signs will be installed to guide motorists.

“And that’s something new for the volunteers that we need this year, he’s someone who is… willing to lead traffic and be outside,” Corwin said. Having a few more volunteers willing to work outside would help so they don’t all have to be outside all the time if it’s cold out, she said.

Volunteers working inside the church will wear gloves and a face mask or shield that will be provided, Neustel said.

“Due to the fact that COVID is still active, we understand that people have concerns about it, so we don’t know how it will affect our volunteer status (number) due to the fact that people… we cannot guarantee that we can take them away from this aspect of things when we work in closer premises, ”said Neustel.

The meal delivery protocol will also be slightly modified to avoid contact with others.

“… we will not go to their house, we will take them to their door, ring the doorbell, walk away, make sure someone comes to pick them up,” Neustel said. “This is how we try to prevent things as best we can.”

Volunteers will answer the phone at Concordia Lutheran Church from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, November 22-24, for delivery orders and volunteers. Call the church at 252-2819. Those wishing to have meals delivered can also call on Thursday morning, dinner day.

“Some people want specific times for meal delivery,” Neustel said. “We can’t guarantee this because we don’t know what our volunteers will be, but we’re trying to do it as quickly as possible. “

People who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to call and provide their name along with their phone number and any tasks they would like to help with. They will have time to come and help. Duties include directing traffic, delivering meals, preparing meals and cleaning. People can also show up on this day to volunteer and will be assigned tasks.

Dinner preparations

Preparation of the meal that will feed up to 700 people begins Wednesday. The University of Jamestown is part of that preparation, where 25 turkeys will be cooked – the smallest of which weighs 22 pounds.

“They let us use their kitchen, which we really appreciate,” said Corwin. “We really appreciate that, it helps us a lot. “

Volunteers will work in the UJ’s dining room cooking the turkeys, making homemade stuffing for cooking on Thursday mornings and making pumpkin bars, which this year replaces the pumpkin pie. The stuffing, potatoes, gravy and corn will all be prepared on Thursday morning. While rolls are usually a part of the meal as well, they didn’t fit into dinner containers, so they won’t be included this year, Corwin said.

Wednesday’s work begins early for the organizers – around 7:30 a.m. – and continues until the end of meal preparation around 6 p.m.

“Then we go down to church and make sure everything is in place for the morning,” Corwin said.

Donors are essential to the meal, including Sysco, which donates the corn and cranberries, Cash Wise the turkeys, and Pan-O-Gold the 60 loaves of bread for the stuffing.

“We try to do as much as possible locally,” Neustel said. “We have very good commercial support on cash donations for the things we need to buy. “

This support for the event is appreciated.

“We would never be able to do this without the support of the community,” Corwin said. “And – it’s a community Thanksgiving. It’s the community putting it on. It’s just organized at Concordia because they said they’d be willing to let us do that.

Due to the change to a driving event, Corwin and Nesutel said they were a little nervous about how it would turn out.

“We are planning for 700 and praying that we don’t have to turn anyone away,” Neustel said. “… we will do our best and I hope the community understands if we are running out of food.” “

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If you are going to

What: Community Thanksgiving Dinner

When: 11 am-1pm Thursday November 25

Or: meals will be collected at Concordia Lutheran Church, 502 First Ave. N, or discount; no church meal

Cost: free

For delivery orders / to volunteer: call 252-2819

About Marco C. Nichols

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