Posted onNovember 18, 2020|Comments Off on Community Thanksgiving Feast Continues — With Changes
All over town, Westport families are reimagining Thanksgiving. Tables will be smaller; celebrations, more subdued.
Saugatuck Congregational Church has made changes too. The Community Thanksgiving Day Feast — a 40-year interfaith tradition — will not bring hundreds of folks together there, to share turkey, trimmings and fellowship.
But older and needy Westporters will not be forgotten. Organizers are working with OnTheMarc Events to provide meals through the Gillespie Center and Senior Center. Support comes from the Interfaith Council of Westport and Weston, Westport Rotary Club, Westport Sunrise Rotary and Temple Israel.
Saugatuck Church has also organized a Thanksgiving hotline. Residents in need can confidentially request food assistance. Click here to fill out the form, or call 203-227-1261.
Donations are needed to help support the assistance program. Click here to help.
For 20 years, Coleytown Elementary School students have created holiday cards as Community Feast decorations. They’ll do the same, to accompany food at the shelter and Senior Center.
Saugatuck Church’s Thanksgiving may look different this year. But some traditions never change.
This year’s Community Thanksgiving Feast will look different from years past (above). ’ But the willingness of Westporters to support one another continues — this year virtually.
Comments Off on Community Thanksgiving Feast Continues — With Changes
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.
Every year, many hands help create Westport’s Community Thanksgiving Feast.
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.
The annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Feast draws hundreds of people.
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.)
For nearly 50 years, Saugatuck Congregational Church has hosted — and done all the work for — the Community Thanksgiving Day Feast.
But just as traditions change — someone new in the family takes over the meal, somebody brings a great new dish — the longstanding Westport event has a different look this year.
Saugatuck Church is passing its turkey baster to the Inn at Longshore’s OnTheMarc catering. They’ll do the cooking — and the meal will be served at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
Many hands help with the Community Thanksgiving Feast.
Dan Levinson and Monique Bosch have stepped up to coordinate the feast.
But many things have not changed.
For one, everyone is invited.
For another, it’s still free. Partners — including Main Street Resources, Saugatuck Congregational, Christ & Holy Trinity, the Unitarian Church in Westport and Temple Israel — are making the day possible.
And — perhaps most importantly — tons of volunteers are needed. All ages are welcome. To help in any way, click here.
For 47 years, the handsome white building near the center of town has hosted a community Thanksgiving feast. (With a little help from Christ & Holy Trinity Church around the corner, after the fire a few years ago.)
It’s a free meal. All are welcome. And hundreds come.
Some are alone. Others prefer the company of a community. No one asks questions. They just gather together, and enjoy the day.
A small part of the Thanksgiving Community Feast.
The turkey-and-all-the-trimmings event goes like clockwork. After nearly half a century, the church has it down pat.
Yet it takes a village to throw a townwide feast.
Over 100 volunteers make it happen. Saugatuck Church members, congregants from every other religious institution, non-believers — all pitch in.
They donate food, decorate the hall, do kitchen prep, set up tables, check in guests, cook, carve, serve, oversee the buffet table, bus tables, wash dishes and (of course) clean up. Three of them play keyboard, drums and sax, just for kicks.
They provide rides to the church for those who can’t drive, and deliver meals to those who are homebound.
They work magic.
A few of the volunteers at a Saugatuck Church Community Thanksgiving Feast.
The name of the holiday is Thanksgiving. Many of the helpers at tomorrow’s feast work behind the scenes. They never hear thanks.
That’s not why they do it, of course. Still, it’s nice to know you’re appreciated.
Which is why all the hundreds of Community Thanksgiving Feast volunteers — past, present and future — are this week’s Unsung Heroes.
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