November 16, 2012


No need to be alone on Thanksgiving


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Members of the Cortland United Methodist Church team up to make banana bread. Left to right are Pam Cincotta, Doris Conway, Pam Kavalesky and Patty Schaap.

Living and Leisure Editor

The Rev. Dale Austin said the free Thanksgiving meal offered at the Freeville United Methodist Church isn’t just about the food.
“That’s a ministry we started years and years ago. The original intent was to provide a meal for families who could not afford a full Thanksgiving dinner. Over the years it’s evolved...Another gap we are filling is for retired couples that have children out of state, who don’t want to be alone. This way they get to socialize around the table and have a good time.”
Austin is pastor at the Route 366 church in Freeville, which is just one of many churches and organizations in the area putting together a free Thanksgiving meal for anyone — to stave off hunger, offer a holiday tradition and make sure people aren’t alone on Thanksgiving. His church is offering a Thanksgiving Day dinner at 1 p.m. Nov. 22 at the church. Call to reserve at 607-898-4713.
“We realize that not everyone has a place to be on Thanksgiving, and sometimes it’s just nice to be able to spend the holiday with friends in the community,” said Becky Witty, secretary at Cortland United Methodist Church, which is also offering a free dinner on Thanksgiving. “This is our fourth year of offering this free dinner,” she said. Last year, the group served almost 200 people.
At Grace Christian Fellowship on Foster Avenue, church members put together nearly 100 Thanksgiving baskets for many who access its food pantry there. “We do a dinner a Christmas,” said Lynne Sypher, office assistant at Grace Christian Fellowship. The church gave out their baskets this morning: potatoes, turkey, squash, stuffing, vegetables, “anything you could think of,” Sypher said: laundry detergent, household soap, toilet paper. “It’s a huge basket ... It is the fixings for everything you need, not only for Thanksgiving, for several days after. We have a family that grows and donates potatoes and squash for all of these baskets,” she said. “It’s a very wonderful time. This is our third year ... We saw that there was a need in the community, for more help,” she said.
- 4 to 6 p.m. tonight, Loaves and Fishes Annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Grace & Holy Spirit Church, 13 Court St. A traditional meal is planned, said Kim Hill, director of Loaves. “It’s open to anybody,” she said of the free meal, that it has been offering for the last 12 years at least. “It’s for the community,” Hill said.
- Sunday, Tenant’s Association Thanksgiving, 42 Church St., a dinner for the residents who signed up. Those interested chipped in a fee and organizers have arranged for the Elm Tree Inn in McLean to cater the meal. The Tenant’s Association pays for a portion of the meal cost out of its fund.
“This is their second time doing it for us,” said Marty Diehl, resident in the building. “We are furnishing dessert, stuffing, squash and pies.”
About 70 people, three quarters of the building, are participating this year, Diehl said. The association has been getting people together for Thanksgiving for six years.
“There’s a lot of people that never go out of here for the holidays, so it’s a good idea to give them a good meal... It’s all about the age old story, making people smile and doing something good,” said Diehl. “We try to do something nice every year for the tenants.”
- 12:30 p.m., Sunday, Annual Community Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner, Christian Assembly of God, 175 Port Watson St., Cortland. Free. Complete dinner with all the trimmings. All homemade food. All welcome.
- 2 p.m., Sunday, Salvation Army Thanksgiving Dinner, 138 Main St., Cortland, open to all. “Because of Heritage Realty, we are going to be able to serve turkeys this year,” said Capt. Shane Budd. “Last year we had a couple hundred,” he said. Staff ran out of turkeys and had to serve chicken. “This year, we have enough donated turkey we don’t have to worry about going to chicken.” Captains Shane and Dorothy Budd have six turkeys and the fixings, with pies donated by TOPS Friendly Markets on the menu. Shane Budd said the Salvation Army has provided a free meal for 10 to 20 years, wanting to help people in need.
- One seating at noon, the other at 2:30 p.m., on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day, Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner, Cortland United Methodist Church, 734 Route 222, Cortlandville. All invited. If possible, make a reservation by Monday.
But if unable to do so, still come. If a ride is needed, tell staff when reserving at 607-756-5426. Messages will be returned. There will be turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash, corn, applesauce, cranberry sauce, pies, breads, coffee, tea, cider. Church members are preparing 15 turkeys and 100 pounds of potatoes for the effort.


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