It’s been going on for almost three decades in some form or other, but the most recent iteration of the “Community Thanksgiving Dinner” heads into its sixth year with organizers looking to make this year’s celebration one of the most successful in memory. The dinner is again scheduled for the Fellowship Hall of the First Church of Christ, Congregational, 464 Campbell Ave., on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23.
Bill Ewry, chairman of the committee, mailed or delivered his annual request and update letter to various organizations and groups, looking for the many volunteers needed to make the dinner a success.
“We have a solid core of volunteers,” Ewry said when visiting the Voice office recently. “But, we still need more people to help with the various tasks during the day.”
Those tasks can be delivery, helping with preparation or helping the serve the dinner. But there is also a need for donations to help put the meal together. Pies are always needed, and, no matter what your specialty, your help is always welcome.
“As a community dinner, we ask the community to help in many ways, such as donating a baked pumpkin pie or other favorite pie; serving the meal; or helping with the cleanup,” Ewry wrote in his annual letter to churches and organizations.
Over the years, the dinner has attracted hundreds of residents, many of whom had nowhere to go on the holiday. Shuttles transported residents from the various elderly housing projects to the dinner as well.
As the dinner grew, the event took on more dinner-goers, many decided an afternoon with friends and neighbors was the way to celebrate the feast.
Those looking to make pie donations or to volunteer are asked to call (203) 933-6291 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pies will be collected on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of Thanksgiving week, or can be dropped off by arrangement.
Last year, hundreds of dinners were served and organizers expect the demand to be at least as great as 2016.
Originally begun under the auspices of ACTION (Area Congregations Together in Outreach Networking), a subgroup of the West Haven Clergy Association, and later, WHEAT (West Haven Emergency Assistance Taskforce), the dinner began in the late 1980s during a time when concern for the homeless and shut-ins was a major social issue.
With the cooperation of the city and various municipal departments, the dinner had volunteers from most of the city’s churches, and conscripted the aid of various businesses for the preparation and delivery of the dinners.
Always located at First Congregational Church, the Clergy Association and WHEAT continued to have the dinner under their umbrellas. That was true until six years ago.
Changes in the organization and a new focus on core responsibilities forced WHEAT to look for other sponsors for the dinner. With other things planned for the holidays, the agency’s leadership believed it could best do its job remaining true to helping the needy in its prime purpose of providing food. Begun under the Clergy Association, WHEAT trimmed back its involvement and looked for a new committee to take over.
Ewry and a few volunteers took over and have been running things ever since.
Those needing information should contact Ewry at the above number or call First Congregational Church (203) 933-6291.