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Connellsville churches, volunteers continue tradition of the Thanksgiving Day Dinner |

Connellsville churches, volunteers continue tradition of the Thanksgiving Day Dinner

For the past 17 years, churches in the Connellsville area have come together to provide a Thanksgiving Day Dinner for those in the community who can truly give thanks during the holiday season.

“We just saw a need,” said Jessica Stuart, the administrative assistant with City Church of Connellsville. “And who wants to be alone on Thanksgiving?”

While Stuart said City Church is the administrative hub of the annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner, the effort is brought forth by at least 20 churches as well as five businesses and organizations in the area.

“We start months in advance,” Stuart said.

Stuart said the planning starts in September as the churches hold planning meetings into October and early November when they begin to collect the donated food and estimate the number of meals they’re going to serve based on the increases they’ve seen every year of people attending.

“The Thanksgiving Day Dinner at the Connellsville Senior Center is the best day of the year for the City and community,” said Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln. “And each year the need grows.”

Stuart said that increase of people averages around 10 percent every year with last year’s jumping to 20 percent, but Stuart said that was from those affected by August floods.

Last year, 839 meals were served on Thanksgiving with 462 opting to have the food delivered, 176 people wanted their meals as a takeout and picked them up and 201 sat down for the dinner served at the Connellsville Senior Center.

This year’s dinner includes turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy, a dinner roll and pie for dessert.

What made up of those meals last year were 70 pies, 80 cans of cranberry sauce, 250 pounds of potatoes for mashed potatoes and 45 turkeys that were baked by volunteers and brought to the center.

Lincoln has been involved with the dinner, adding that his family donates a turkey every year and helps with delivering meals in the city and even in the county.

“It’s a great way to show our kids how important it is to give back to your community,” Lincoln said. “And to be grateful to have the things they do compared to what others have in their lives.”

Volunteers also arrive at the senior center the day before Thanksgiving to set up the kitchen, the chairs, the tables and the dinnerware, and volunteers arrive at the center at 6:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving to begin cooking.

“The Thanksgiving Day Dinner is one of my favorite things,” Stuart said. “It’s really amazing to see people that touched by a simple act—it’s phenomenal!”

Stuart said everything is donated and everyone volunteers from donating to helping with delivering and serving meals and driving people to and from the center to see what difference can be made in helping someone with a meal on a holiday.

“They do an amazing job,” Lincoln said of the churches and volunteers involved. “It truly is a wonderful day to give thanks and be proud to live in such a supportive community.

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