Community Thanksgiving feast for all, not just those down on their luck

ktanner@thetribunenews.comNovember 15, 2012 

— Some community Thanksgiving dinners are only for people who are down on their luck or homeless. Not so in Cambria, where the festive, free feast is open to everyone.

It can be depressing to dine alone on the holiday of plenty, and many people prefer instead to share a home-cooked banquet in the lively company of hundreds of people. At the dinner, strangers frequently become new acquaintances and friends, and reunions are frequent. The 2.5-hour event is packed with music, decorations, friendship, conversation, laughter, hugs and, of course, good food.

Last year, more than 650 meals were served at the mid-day event. The free Thanksgiving dinner is totally funded and run by volunteers, including those from Cambria Vineyard Church and other churches and groups, according to Gary White, Vineyard’s pastor.

Putney coordinates the annual event and encourages community members to invest some time and effort to make sure everybody on the North Coast has a good, classical, family-style turkey dinner. Other volunteers who can’t spare the time donate specific food items.

Participants — whether they’re cooking, decorating, serving, coordinating or cleaning up — say they always enjoy the event, especially seeing the big smiles on the faces of the children, hearing seniors laugh and chat while they dine, and watch everybody soaking up the sense of community camaraderie. Some volunteers have participated for decades.

Vineyard Christian Fellowship (its name changed to Cambria Vineyard Church in 2007) has organized the community Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Cay since 1989. Before that, it was served the Sunday befroe Thanksgiving.

This year's community meal will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St., Cambria.

Organizers still are accepting offers to help, plus donations of food and supplies. Call Daun Putney at 927-4064.

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