2013 1129 thanksgiving meals
Church of the Harvest volunteers serve free meals to residents on Thanksgiving. File photo: Peter Blasl

While most residents will spend Thanksgiving with their family Thursday, a group of volunteers will be busy cooking and serving dinner to those who have no where else to go for the holiday.

Church of the Harvest in Riverhead has been preparing Thanksgiving feasts for the community over the past three decades, and this year the tradition will continue. Starting at 11 a.m., two dozen volunteers will be serving up turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, seasonal pies and other classic Thanksgiving eats to anyone who wants to participate.

“It’s for anyone who has no place to go, for anyone who is in need,” said Lesley Whelen, church secretary.

Fifteen turkeys have been donated by members of the church for the feast. About 250 to 300 people are expected to partake in the event, which will last from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In addition to providing a dinner at the church, volunteers will also deliver meals to those who are unable to attend the event. A pick-up service will also be available to transport residents who are unable to drive to the church so that they can partake in the meal.

“Quite a few are seniors that might not have family around, and who just want to celebrate the holiday with someone,” Whelen said.

Members will begin clearing the church sanctuary Wednesday evening to make room for tables, chairs and serving stations full of delicious food Thursday morning.

“It’s a nice, homey atmosphere,” she added. “We try to make everyone feel like family.”

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