Cambria’s Veterans Memorial Building will be filled with the sights, sounds, tastes, aromas and emotions of the festive Thanksgiving Day season, as hundreds of people sit down together to share a free, traditional holiday meal and gabfest.
The festive turkey feast is open to everyone, including people of all ages and economic situations. Many who would otherwise dine alone can share a home-cooked banquet in the lively company of so many others.
The community’s meal is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, at 1000 Main St. Leftovers, if any, are distributed soon thereafter. Some diners take their meals to go, but most people eat at the hall. Organizers even deliver the dinners through Meals on Wheels to people who are physically unable to attend.
There is no charge, and cash donations are discouraged.
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“It’s our gift to the community,” said Gary White, pastor of Cambria Vineyard Church, which coordinates the event and the donated efforts of the many volunteering individuals and members of other churches, groups and businesses.
At the mid-day dinner, strangers frequently find new acquaintances and friends. Laughter and reunions are frequent at the event packed with music, decorations, friendship, conversation and stories, hugs and, of course, good food.
The meal has been served on Thanksgiving Day since 1989. Before that, it was served up on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Last year, 651 meals were served at the joyful mid-day event, and another 31 delivered.
The free Thanksgiving dinner is totally funded and run by many volunteers, including those from Vineyard and other churches and groups. They donate and prepare food, decorate, serve, coordinate, clean up and, most importantly, make sure every guest feels welcome and included.
Some volunteers have participated for decades and say they can’t imagine spending their holiday any other way, because it’s a wonderful way for them to show their gratitude for all the wonderful attributes and people of the North Coast.