Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday of family and fellowship.
But some people live far from their families. Others may not have the space or ability to entertain a large number of people. And many people, as much as they would love to put out a holiday spread, just can’t afford it.
Local churches and organizations are determined to give people an alternative to being alone or hungry on Thanksgiving.
“Everyone is welcome, regardless of reason,” said the Rev. Robert Weinhold, pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. John in Sycamore. The church will host a free community dinner on Thanksgiving Day. “Some people can’t prepare their own meal anymore or can’t afford to prepare a meal. Some have too many people to cook for. A basket will be out for freewill offerings if people choose, but we’re not urging people to donate.”
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in DeKalb is readying for its third annual community dinner. In its first year, the church served 50 dinners; last year, more than 200. Rev. Joseph Mitchell said he has “no clue” how many to expect this year.
“It’s been growing since the first year, and we expect it to grow this year,” he said. “Everyone is welcome. My family and I have made it our Thanksgiving tradition; we don’t even cook anymore.”
Derek Gibbs of Feed’em Soup said that group also has no idea how many people will show up for its meal. In the past, Feed’em Soup has offered a Thanksgiving meal on its usual free dinner night, Wednesday, but this year will offer a meal on the holiday itself.
Because other organizations are also offering Thanksgiving meals, Gibbs estimated the turnout at Feed’em Soup may be a bit lower than for its twice-monthly dinners.
“Some meals we serve 200 plates, others 400,” Gibbs said. “About a month ago we had 407 plates for a typical meal, but I’m not expecting that many. I’m going to say between 100 and 200, but that’s an uneducated guess.”
There are several opportunities to enjoy a free Thanksgiving meal locally:
• New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 1201 Twombly Road Serving from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22 Traditional Thanksgiving meal. All are welcome, regardless of need.
• Feed’em Soup, 122 S. First St. Serving from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22 Traditional Thanksgiving meal. All are welcome, regardless of need.
• Kingston Friendship Center, 120 S. Main St. Serving from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23 Traditional Thanksgiving meal. All are welcome, regardless of need.
• Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. John, 26555 Brickville Road Serving from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22 Traditional Thanksgiving meal. All are welcome, regardless of need.