It’s one of Westport’s greatest traditions: the Community Thanksgiving Day Feast.
For decades, it’s happened organically. Members of the sponsoring Saugatuck Congregational Church — and many others — sign up to bring food, or help elsewhere. Over 200 people show up, alone and with families. There’s music, fellowship and fun.
Sometimes there are tweaks. Sign-up Genius now makes it easier to assign tasks. When a fire rendered Saugatuck Church unusable, Christ & Holy Trinity stepped into the breach.
Last year brought a big change. Marc Weber and Anthony Miami took over the turkeys.
Plus the stuffing, gravy, potatoes, salads, vegetables, desserts — everything about the meal from, well, soup to nuts.
They were not simply volunteers. Weber owns OnTheMarc Catering. Miami is executive chef of the Inn at Longshore.
These guys are pros.
Five years ago Weber — a Culinary Institute of America graduate who began as a private chef, then grew his business to include clients like the Warehouse at FTC, Audubon Greenwich and Hudson Loft — partnered with the Longshore Inn.
He works all over Fairfield County, Westchester and New York City. But he lives in Westport.
And he wants to give back.
He’s on the board of an organization that helps local families find volunteer opportunities. At Longshore, he works with non-profits like Sunrise Rotary and Tiny Miracles.
His mother — a philanthropic adviser — emphasized the importance of “skills-based” volunteerism: contributing not just money, but talent and expertise.
Last year for the first time, Dan Levinson and Monique Bosch of Main Street Resources coordinated Westport’s Thanksgiving Feast. They asked Weber to help. He and Miami fed nearly 300 people, at very low cost.
“We know how to do it,” Weber says simply.
This year (Thursday, November 28, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), they’ll do it again.
Once again, they’re doing it gladly.
“I was so impressed by the number of families who volunteered,” Weber says of last year’s event. The first selectman helped serve. High school kids transported food from the Inn.”
That’s right: Now, the food is cooked off-site. It’s a big step up from the former potluck-type planning.
Of course, Weber and Miami can’t do it all alone. Westport Rotary, the Senior Center, Gillespie Center, Homes with Hope, the Unitarian Church, United Methodist Church, Bedford Middle School and Coleytown Elementary School all participate.
So do over 80 volunteers. They decorate, set up, greet, serve, clean up, even drive attendees who need transportation.
Monique and Dan hope for the usual donations of turkeys from Stew Leonard’s, pies from Temple Israel, bread from Sono Bakery and s’mores from Westport Boy Scouts. Other generous donations traditionally include floral arrangements from Westport Garden Club and greeting cards from Coleytown Middle School,
Somehow, it all comes together. It’s a true community feast.
But now the turkey and trimmings are prepared by true pros.
(To volunteer at Westport’s Community Thanksgiving Day Feast, click here. If you need a ride, call the Saugatuck Church: 203-227-1261. For more information, call Monique Bosch: 203-858-8829.)