November 22, 2008
Volunteers serve up holiday meal
CORTLAND — More than 50 volunteers worked at the Grace Episcopal Church to serve about 70 people Thursday at the annual community Thanksgiving dinner.
“This is really a blessing,” said Zonnia Lucas, who recently moved to Cortland from Utica. She pointed to the dozens of community members waiting to serve coffee and pumpkin pie.
“Society says so many bad things about kids,” Lucas said. “But just look at all of them here to work at this.”
Lucas was among the local residents who came to the annual Thanksgiving dinner hosted at the church by the soup kitchen Loaves and Fishes.
Every Wednesday, the organization holds free dinners at the church on Court Street, and the group had no trouble finding help to serve 16 roasted turkeys and more than 50 pounds of mashed potatoes.
“We were fortunate the community members were so generous,” Director Kim Hill said, pointing to the piles of rolls, pies and stuffing donated to the food pantry.
For more than 20 years, Marie Spollen has volunteered time at the annual community Thanksgiving dinner, and she paused from slicing turkey to say she enjoys the appreciation from the diners.
“Many come back to thank me, even though I’m not the cook,” said Spollen, a retired librarian who lives in Homer. “I just like doing something to help the community.”
Jeff Little, who lives on Central Avenue, said he was not sure if he would eat a Thanksgiving dinner next week and pointed out that many cannot afford the large meal.
“It was very nice of them to hold something like,” said Little, who comes to the soup kitchen regularly with his 8-year-old son Cody Little.
While Cody named the turkey as his favorite part of the dinner, Debbie Byrne said she liked connecting with the people.
“There’s a lot of love in this room, and you can feel it,” said Byrne, a McGraw resident.
Hill said she was a little disappointed more people didn’t come to the dinner but guessed the frigid temperatures were keeping people at home.
“I was a little surprised at the low turnout,” she added.
But many volunteers said they definitely planned to return in December to lend a hand at the Christmas dinner.
“It’s just a good way to help the community,” said Rich Galbreth, a junior at SUNY Cortland who came to the event as part of community service for the Delta Chi fraternity.
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