‘The most re­ward­ing day’

Vol­un­teers and donors make 20th com­mu­nity Thanks­giv­ing din­ner a win­ner

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN TAPLEY

Twelve tur­keys, 130 pounds of pota­toes, 100 pounds of peas and corn, 72 boxes of stuff­ing, dozens of pies and sev­eral boxes of ice cream bars added up to a 20-year-old Wood­stock tra­di­tion on Mon­day.

Uni­for Local 636 and Op­er­a­tion Shar­ing hosted their 20th an­nual com­mu­nity Thanks­giv­ing din­ner at the Uni­for Hall on Beale Street, pro­vid­ing a free meal to any­one who wanted it.

“It’s a day that’s very spe­cial to me,” said Scott Brad­ford, recre­ation com­mit­tee chair with Local 636 and fi­nan­cial sec­re­tary for the union hall. “To me, it’s the most re­ward­ing day of the year.”

Brad­ford has been in­volved in or­ga­niz­ing the com­mu­nity Thanks­giv­ing din­ner for the past 15 years, and he said he starts get­ting things in place for the meal in the sum­mer.

Things kick into high gear on Sun­day, when vol­un­teers start pre­par­ing for the feast, and they are back at it again by 7 a.m. Mon­day morn­ing.

Brad­ford said the hugs and thanks re­ceived from guests make it all worth­while.

“It’s al­ways a plea­sure,” he said. “They’re al­ways ap­pre­cia­tive of what we do.”

While union and Op­er­a­tion Shar­ing vol­un­teers or­ga­nize and run the event, it is sup­ported by many oth­ers in the com­mu­nity.

The tur­keys were do­nated by the Beachville Fire­fight­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion and the birds were cooked at Wood­stock’s South Gate Cen­tre.

Produce Ex­press helped out with the pota­toes, Wood­stock Food­land do­nated pies for dessert and Wood­stock Taxi pro­vided free rides to and from the Uni­for Hall.

Even the cen­tre­pieces on the ta­bles were cre­ated and do­nated by the 15th Wood­stock Girl Guides.

Or­ga­niz­ers were pre­pared to feed 250 peo­ple on Mon­day, and Brad­ford said the num­ber of peo­ple turn­ing out to the meal are stay­ing about the same.

“We serve un­til ei­ther (the food is) gone or ev­ery­body’s come,” he said.

If there are left­overs, take-out meals are made up for peo­ple un­able to make it out, and if any­thing is left over af­ter that, it goes to Op­er­a­tion Shar­ing ’s Bull­win­kles eatery.

Local 636 recre­ation com­mit­tee mem­ber Diane Colucci hasn’t missed vol­un­teer­ing at many of the com­mu­nity Thanks­giv­ing din­ners over the past two decades.

“I en­joy help­ing,” said Colucci, who does ev­ery­thing from help­ing pre­pare food in the morn­ing to clean­ing up af­ter the last mouth­ful of food has been eaten. “I find it very ful­fill­ing to come in and help the less for­tu­nate.”

She said what she en­joys most is in­ter­act­ing with the guests, many of whom she has got to know over the years.

“I like to try to make them feel as wel­come as I can,” Colucci said.

She said she’s grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity.

“As long as we can keep do­ing it, I’ll be here.”

Wood­stock Mayor Trevor Birtch and his fam­ily are also long­time vol­un­teers at the meal.

“I al­ways be­lieved in help­ing my chil­dren un­der­stand how im­por­tant it is to give back and give en­cour­age­ment in our com­mu­nity,” he said.

He praised or­ga­niz­ers and fel­low vol­un­teers for what they do.

“I see the same smil­ing faces here year af­ter year giv­ing back,” Birtch said. “Wood­stock truly is the Friendly City. We have a very blessed com­mu­nity.”

Among the reg­u­lar guests at the Thanks­giv­ing Day meal, Randy Ri­ley said he al­ways en­joys the food and get­ting out to see peo­ple.

“It’s a good tur­key meal, good pies and good ser­vice,” he said.

JOHN TAPLEY/SEN­TINEL RE­VIEW

Vol­un­teers Patti Wright, Cathy Olah and Carol Taplay were among those serv­ing up a free Thanks­giv­ing meal to any­one who wanted it at the Uni­for 636 Hall on Mon­day. In its 20th year, the an­nual event is hosted by the Local 636 Recre­ation Com­mit­tee and Op­er­a­tion Shar­ing.

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