Janine Giles receives a donation of canned yams from Donna and Jeremy Allenbaugh for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

The eighth annual Thanksgiving dinner held at the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church is supported by a group of volunteers, many helping out since the church’s first Thanksgiving dinner, as well as the community itself.

“When this started, a couple of us were going to get together because our families were spending the actual Thanksgiving day with their in-laws,” says volunteer Janine Giles. “Some folks overheard us planning and asked if they could join us. It has grown to include a lot of townsfolk.”

Giles reports that last year, 167 meals were served by 18 volunteers. About half of those volunteers have moved away, “but, as always, God provides and we have picked up volunteers to step into their place,” she adds. They hope to serve 200 meals this Thanksgiving for dine in and carryout.

The menu is strictly traditional with turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, dinner roll with butter and a choice of apple or pumpkin pie. Food is donated by the volunteers, other church members, and even some local benefactors and businesses. This year, for instance, Jeremy Allenbaugh and his wife Donna donated some turkeys and canned yams to the cause.

“We have several men that help with cooking the turkeys, one lady bakes all the dinner rolls every year, we have several ladies who donate pies and we all get involved with the trimmings,” Giles says. “It has been a real joint effort and so much fun to see folks as they come drop off pies or whatever it is they are bringing.”

All of their cooking is praised by those who partake, she says, but the pies are especially favored.

Giles usually takes care of the green bean casserole and the corn. This year, she’ll also be in charge of rolls and gravy. “Must have lots of gravy,” she says. “And ours is good!”

Of course, credit is also given to Fr. Stephen J. Parlet for allowing use of the church for this community endeavor. “Without his love and support, this couldn’t happen,” Giles says.

To prepare the right amount of food, the volunteers require interested parties to call in advance. They hate to turn anyone away, Giles says, but they have worked out a way to handle late callers.

In the end, the best part of the entire dinner is seeing all the generosity, she says. “We receive donations and then we pass those on to the community.”

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