Thanksgiving is a day of thanks and a day of giving at the
A crew of volunteers for is getting ready to cook a Thanksgiving feast for the homeless who spend their Thursday nights in the church basement instead of out in the open air as the weather turns cold.
Volunteers have been working all month to put the meal together. A sign-up sheet was passed around the congregation at Sunday morning services beginning the first week in November asking for donations. The food has been pouring in to the Church kitchen for weeks now, making it possible to serve turkey and ham as well as an assortment of vegetables and pies to the overnight guests.
Maureen's Haven coordinator Caren Heacock said she added ham to the menu because turkey is frequently served for dinner at the church throughout the year.
“It sounds funny but people get tired of it, so the ham adds another choice," she said.
Volunteers will arrive at the church early Thursday morning to start cooking, and inner will be served at 6 p.m. On Wednesday, volunteer Maria Montgomery and her three children will set tables real dishes, silverware, glasses, tablecloths, and candles in place of paper plates and plastic forks.
Kathy Taylor, owner of Eden Song in Aquebogue, donated floral arrangements for the tables. This year, , an organic farm in Aquebogue donated all the vegetables, and in Cutchogue provided the apple cider.
At the end of the evening, chief cook Adele Mueller and her husband Bob will pack up a plate of leftovers and head home to make turkey sandwiches. The rest of the leftovers are packaged into small dinner portions and are frozen to be used at a later date as meals for shuts or if someone is sick and unable to prepare meals for a few days.
Heacock said that the prospect of rain on Thursday may draw a larger crowd of diner guests to Maureen's Haven, now in its ninth season, than in previous years. Regardless of the number, no one is turned away, she added. Some diners are not homeless but find themselves without a family on Thanksgiving and they head over to the Church where they are welcomed with a hot meal and fellowship.
“I’m trying a different system this year,” Heacock said. “I want to create an atmosphere of healing.”
According to Heacock, about 1,500 people on the North and South Forks have volunteered to help the homeless in some way last year. Mattituck Presbyterian also provided Thanksgiving dinners to 37 needy families in the congregation this year as part of its "Loaves and Fishes" program headed by church member Martha Carter.
in Cutchogue donated 17 boxes of food to "Loaves and Fishes" while church members Bella Albee some friends donated $300. Albee and company also ran an ongoing food drive outside theSupermarket in Cutchogue over the last few weeks.
“This enabled us to generously feed 37 needy families for Thanksgiving,” Carter said. “They got turkeys, vegetables, stuffing, cranberries, canned yams and the fixings to make pumpkin pies.”
The food baskets are being distributed this week. According to Carter, the number of families in need has increased over the years from just a handful to 34 families.
“But all the people are so grateful,” Carter said. “Our minister said, 'In faith, just take them in.' And we do.”