Thanksgiving dinner to stay or go
Volunteers dragging coolers lined up outside of a small room in the basement of Concordia Lutheran Church waiting for meals and assignments. Thanksgiving dinners were assembled quickly in to-go boxes and stacked in the waiting coolers, and driver...
Volunteers dragging coolers lined up outside of a small room in the basement of Concordia Lutheran Church waiting for meals and assignments. Thanksgiving dinners were assembled quickly in to-go boxes and stacked in the waiting coolers, and drivers were sent out to deliver the meals.
The 26th annual Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner was held Thursday at Concordia Lutheran Church in Jamestown. Volunteers served 335 meals in house and had 340 delivered or carry-out meals, said Amy Neustel, event co-chair.
The meal included turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, corn and pumpkin pie for dessert. The delivery and to-go meals have all the same items except pumpkin bars instead of pie.
Andrea Eckstein was one of the 13 drivers delivering meals around Jamestown. Eckstein said she and her husband, the Rev. Tom Eckstein, pastor at Concordia, have been helping with the dinner since they moved to town 11 years ago. Eckstein said she fills in wherever organizers need, and this is her fourth year delivering.
"It's not just the church, a lot of people from the community come year after year," Eckstein said.
Out in the dining room, Paulette Ritter mans the pumpkin pie table. Ritter said she has covered pie duty for 23 or 24 years.
"The dinner is a good thing and people really appreciate it," Ritter said.
Neustel commanded the room set up for putting together the to-go meals, calling out the number of carry-out meals needed and handing out delivery assignments.
"There are always little glitches, but we work through it and move forward," Neustel said. "Each year we critique something. This year, it's the stuffing."
Every year the number of deliveries increases, Eckstein said. There were also more people than usual carrying out meals this year, she said.
Eckstein's first delivery run of the day was taking eight meals to three locations. She said the delivery system was originally designed for people who get Meals on Wheels and blossomed from there.
"A lot of volunteer hours go into this, but it is organized by just a couple of people," Eckstein said. "We would be lost without Amy Neustel and Sue Corwin."
Neustel and Corwin have co-chaired the dinner since its founder, Fritz Buegel, started the meal in 1990. For the first three years the meal was served at the Pantry Cafe before moving to the church. The total number of meals this year, 675, beat last year's high of 661.
"I'm happy with the turnout," Neustel said. "I'm tired now, but it's all worth it."
Any leftovers go to the Daily Bread - Jamestown program, a local organization that provides unserved food to people in need, Neustel said.