The following is a press release issued by the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Bragg:
For the 25th year, the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Bragg sponsored a free Thanksgiving meal to coast residents from Albion to Westport. The event this year served a record-breaking 1,000 free meals—a marked increase over last year’s 800 meals. In addition to feeding many food-insecure households, many of the box lunches went to people who, regardless of finances, would not otherwise have a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Most of the meals were reserved ahead of time and either picked up at the church (367 S. Sanderson Way, Fort Bragg), where masked and gloved greeters distributed them, or delivered to homes by 18 volunteer teams. In partnership with the Fort Bragg Food Bank, additional meals were distributed at accessible sites throughout the coast so that those without an address for home delivery or without transportation to the church could still receive a meal. Staff members working at Sherwood Oaks convalescent home and the hospital’s emergency room on the holiday enjoyed a surprise delivery of meals.
The entirely volunteer effort came together through the hard work of 123 volunteers (not including the 18 driver teams), who worked a combined total of more than 500 hours leading up to and including Thanksgiving Day planning, procuring, publicizing, preparing, cooking, packaging, cleaning, assembling, directing traffic and distributing meals.
Like last year, the kitchen was led by Lynn Derrick, of Queenie’s Roadhouse Café in Elk, who planned a delicious and nutritious “box lunch” that included turkey, cranberry sauce, potato salad with a seasonal twist, a colorful three-bean salad, a dinner roll, and a traditional dessert. Desserts were provided by Safeway, Harvest Market and A Sweet Affair Patisserie—a mix of donations made by each store and the generous donations of “dessert dollars” made by shoppers at these stores in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
“Having already restructured every aspect of this longstanding tradition last year to incorporate COVID-related safeguards and comply with county public health orders, we were able to hit the ground running in this second year of the pandemic,” said Printha Worthen, lead event coordinator. “We’re so grateful to have been able to continue the tradition of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner despite the ongoing challenges, and to have fed even more of our neighbors than ever before —something that would have been impossible to do without the seemingly limitless generosity of the coast community.”
“I was feeling down and blue being alone today, but to my surprise, 3 wonderful people just delivered a full Thanksgiving meal to me. I am so blessed and happy to receive it. It isn’t even noon yet, but I cannot wait to partake of my own little Thanksgiving feast,” expressed one meal recipient via email to one of the event organizers.
Worthen and the event planning committee extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this year’s event possible, including the many businesses who ensured there was ample food to share, the radio stations and news outlets who spread the word far and wide, the agencies that helped ensure that everyone who needed a meal received one, and the volunteers who so willingly helped in such a wide range of capacities.
To view a video of last year’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which catches the true spirit of the event, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjG8Rf-Y7QY.