BY CAROL ARNETT
Twenty-four turkeys are on the menu for the eighth annual ecumenical Thanksgiving dinner at St. Ferdinand church. The dinner, held by five churches, fed almost 600 people last year.
“This year, we’re expecting even more,” said Pat Von Nida, who organizes the dinner. Halls Ferry Christian Church, the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, and three Catholic churches, St. Ferdinand, St. Sabina, and Sacred Heart, participate.
Von Nida said that the churches send out letters in June to area businesses asking for donations. Some companies donate money, while others donate products used for attendance prizes. The churches involved provide volunteers.
“We were told when we started that no one would give up their Thanksgiving to volunteer at something like this,” Von Nida said, “but every year we have more than enough volunteers.”
Each church is responsible for manning a different area, Von Nida said. Volunteers work in three shifts, with each church providing about five workers per shift.
Krause catering cooks all the turkeys and lets the churches use their equipment. “Without them, we could not do it,” Von Nida said. “They’ve been a godsend.”
In addition to the meal, there are attendance prizes and health bags for those who need them. These bags, Von Nida said, contain soap, shampoo, and dental supplies. The Knights of Columbus donates hats and scarves to the homeless people who come.
Last year, Von Nida said, the meal served about 75 homeless people. This year, they are using a bus to bring homeless people. But, Von Nida stressed, the meal is for everyone.
“We don’t want anyone to be home by themselves,” she said. “That’s why we started this.” She said they have a lot of single people and couples, and also people whose relatives are out of town. “We don’t ask questions,” Von Nida said. “We just say ‘come on in and have something to eat.’”
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