Giving thanks, helping neighbors

Nov 26, 2019

Community members are banding together this Thanksgiving to make sure everyone has a turkey dinner.

The Middle School and Chatham Village Foods partnered for the past seven years to distribute family-size turkey dinners to students and their families. Nurse Susan Akins said that the company’s donation has grown from 15 turkeys to 51, all accompanied by stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, croutons, and green beans donated by employees of the company.

Initially, Akins distributed the turkeys to middle school students, before including Minot Forest students last year and high schoolers this year.

On Nov. 22, Chatham Village Foods employees pulled up in a fleet of pick-up trucks, and, with the help of students and teachers, nearly filled the back room of the nurses office with meals to be given away.

The newly-established Wareham Lions Club, along with the United Way of Greater New Bedford, A Slice of Heaven, and All American Assisted Living, will be distributing prepared meals to all the residents of the Woods at Wareham and Depot Crossing who requested them.

The group collected more than enough donated food to give everyone a hearty dinner with all the fixings.

Lions Club member Danielle Johnson helped spearhead the collection, working with Todd Mello of A Slice of Heaven and Wreckless Hobbiee, both of whom collected donations.

“I reached out to ask the community for help,” Johnson said.

Paulina Tuy, the resident services director for Woods of Wareham and Depot Crossing, invited residents to sign up for free meals.

Because many residents live alone, she and Johnson decided that it would make the most sense to distribute pre-cooked meals rather than baskets, which are designed to feed at least four people.

About 200 people from the 132 units signed up.

The group’s next challenge was putting it all together in the Woods of Wareham’s small community room.

All American Assisted Living executive director Lori Luzzo, who was Tuy’s predecessor, offered to donate the use a large room at All American along with use of the kitchen.

The facility’s chef, Roger Stevens, even managed to roast 15 turkeys between cooking meals for residents.

On Monday morning, the Lions arrived at All American and sprung into action: sorting donated food, rinsing containers, and beginning to portion out gravy, cranberry sauce, and vegetables while others made mashed potatos and stuffing and Stevens carved the turkeys.

The Gleason Family YMCA gave away 200 turkeys during their annual Turkey & Trimmings event on Monday.

Using food donated by the community over the last month, as well as turkeys donated by the BASE Seafood Auction, volunteers packed and distributed the meal kits on Monday afternoon.