The Cambrian

Cambria’s annual Thanksgiving meal feeds ‘hunger to unite’

Why are so many North Coast residents willing to give up part of their Thanksgiving time to help feed hundreds of people in Cambria for free?

In a world filled with news of war, hate and terrorism, it’s even more important for people to gather together in a spirit of love, sharing and community, according to Daun Putney, coordinator of the annual free Thanksgiving Dinner celebration in Cambria.

At this yearly event where so many residents and visitors connect and dine together, they do so “with a stubborn, unrelenting determination not to let the hardships of life downsize or define us,” Putney wrote in a Facebook interview with The Cambrian. People “hunger to unite … to flow together … to solve things,” especially “in the small piece of heaven” called Cambria.

“That’s why some of us work so hard to put things on like the Cambria Community Thanksgiving Dinner” that starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building, she said.

Before, during and after the traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, side dishes, all the trimmings and desserts, many volunteers and donors come together “where they work best — not for money, not for recognition, promotion, applause or fame — but for experience you can’t get except by uniting and working together” for a common cause.

The shared time and work is uplifting and joyous, she said.

“You feel it in your soul, your spirit, and it completes you, energizes you. And it is what this town is known for in all its fundraising and outreach work,” again, by caring volunteers.

“Cambria gets it,” Putney explained. “It has that grit ... this integrity, this fight, this compassion, this caring. We may argue publicly or privately, but we do know how to take care of each other and it shines,” even, or perhaps especially “when disasters happen on the other side of the world.”

“People may have money, but that doesn’t make them a success,” she said. “The people who help me do this event from donations — donating their products, donating their time or musical talents, or their labor,” they “are the real unsung stars among our community and who make me look so good.

“It’s like these events become a piece of them, a part of them that needs to be a part of their tradition each year,” Putney concluded. The giving and preparing, serving and sharing of the traditional meal fulfill “a yearning that establishes roots deep and becomes a new way, a new custom and a new Thanksgiving tradition for them each year.”

If you go

Cambria’s annual free Thanksgiving dinner event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St. Everybody is welcome to attend.