By RICHARD F. BELISLE
7:20 PM EST, November 22, 2012
Kaitlin Eddy was an infant in her mother’s arms and doesn’t remember the first time she went to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at St. Joseph Parish School in 2001.
Kaitlin and the dinner, which is sponsored by St. Joseph Catholic Church, are 11 years old now.
“We’ve been coming here since the first one,” said Kaitlin’s mother, Annette Eddy. Her husband, Eugene Eddy, and his mother, Joan Frame, joined them Thursday.
Sitting across the hall from the Eddys, also waiting for the doors to open, was Debby Smith of Martinsburg. Second in line, she had been waiting since 11 a.m.
For the last five years, Smith said, she has taken home 14 dinners for neighbors and relatives.
“I bring them home to my elderly aunts and for people who are handicapped or who can’t leave their homes,” she said. “My aunt lost her husband in February and I told her not to worry about cooking today, that I’ll bring her dinner to her.”
Leonard and Helen Harris organize the annual event, secure donations, arrange for the food and recruit the volunteers. Members of the Knights of Columbus help in the effort.
“We served about out 300 dinners the first year,” Leonard Harris said. “This year, we expect to serve about 1,300. The dinner is for anyone who comes in, no matter who they are.”
Nearly 150 volunteers cooked, served and cleaned up from noon to 4 p.m., he said.
Included in the 1,300 dinners were about 200 that are either picked up or are delivered to those who can’t come on their own.
Harris said 35 large turkeys were bought this year. Keeping the white and dark meat on the diners’ plates were mashed and sweet potatoes, corn and green beans, cranberry sauce and stuffing. Dessert was pie, cake and ice cream.
Food and the money to buy it comes from donations from the church, parishioners and individuals, Harris said.
Ed Wilson, a greeter who was signing in diners Thursday, said people come in alone, as couples and as families.
“We have one large group of 12 today,” he said.
Every year, he said, a group of five or six women friends from the Washington, D.C., area makes the dinner an annual tradition.
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