Local groups offer feast and friendship to individuals, families and seniors

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Tigard Church of God member Carrie Williams gets a hug from Del Goff during the churchs Saturday pre-Thanksgiving feast. The church is one of several places offering a Thanksgiving meal to people without a place to celebrate.All across the nation, families are sitting down to meals of turkey and mashed potatoes with loved ones, but for the thousands of local people without any place to go, Thanksgiving can be a sad time.

However, that couldn’t have been farther from the truth on Saturday at the Tigard Church of God, which hosted an early Thanksgiving dinner for anyone interested in having a home-cooked meal.

“We wanted to do something to meet the need,” said Pastor Milt Culver.

The church, located off Southwest Durham Road near Tigard High School, served about 300 Thanksgiving dinners Saturday afternoon.

The dinner has become a tradition at the church on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Now in its third year, the dinner is a way for the church to reach out to the local community, Culver TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Making more gravy, Dave Dobbins served as the main force in the kitchen at Tigard Church of God's Saturday pre-Thanksgiving feast.

The church put the word out to local senior centers, Tigard High School students, Boy Scout troops and members of the church’s youth and children’s ministries.

“We want to make the community aware that we are here to serve them,” Culver said.

The yearly feast has become a way for local seniors who don’t receive meals on weekends to get a meal and socialize with friends, and provides a place for families in need to spend a few hours.

“We had one family come in last year at 11 a.m. and have lunch, then they left and came back at 3 p.m. to have dinner,” Culver said. by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - DeLynn Otis oversaw operations in the Pie Room during the Tigard Church of Gods Saturday pre-Thanksgiving feast.

Other local dinners

There is no shortage of places to gather this Thanksgiving for people looking to get a home-cooked meal.

Beaverton Christian Church is also hosting a holiday meal for members of the community. Portland’s Meals on Wheels People — a nonprofit organization that provides warm meals to seniors across the Portland area — is organizing two local Thanksgiving day meals at the Tigard Senior Center and the Elsie J. Stuhr Center in Beaverton. 

The group has provided Thanksgiving meals at sites across Portland for 43 years, said Julie Piper Finley, director of marketing and communications for Meals on Wheels People. 

“Thanksgiving is practically a sacred holiday in the U.S.,” Piper Finley said. “It is the one holiday we have that’s all about food and being thankful. For seniors, we serve many who have had an abundance of life experience. They fought in World War II, they worked careers, and these are people who very often have ended up in a place in life where their family is gone or lives far away from them. How can you turn your back and say, ‘Well, you’re on your own?’”

Both Meals on Wheels dinners are open to all ages.

“A lot of people are coming over because they don’t have anyone to have Thanksgiving with,” Piper Finley said.

Dinners at the Meals on Wheels locations run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Meals on Wheels spends its days making sure local seniors have access to warm meals, but Piper Finley said the Thanksgiving dinners do more than just supply food for people. “Fifty percent of it is making sure they have someone to have the dinner with,” she said. 

The agency delivers about 5,000 meals on an average day, Finley Piper added. 

“Thanksgiving is actually a small day for us,” she said. 

The group plans to serve about 1,000 people at its dinner celebrations and is delivering another 1,000 dinners to homebound seniors as part of its regular deliveries. 

The dinner includes all the traditional Thanksgiving delights, Finley Piper said, including roasted turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, potato rolls, and, of course, pumpkin pie.

“It’s the classic Thanksgiving dinner,” she said, “and you can’t have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.”by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Conni Leloff, left, and Linda Dobbins volunteered their time serving food during the Tigard Church of Gods Saturday pre-Thanksgiving feast.

Looking for a Thanksgiving meal? 

There are a few places locally offering a free Thanksgiving meal to families with no place to go this year. 

  • Tigard Senior Center — 8815 S.W. O’Mara St. This dinner is open to people of all ages from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Elsie J. Stuhr Center — 5550 S.W. Hall Blvd., in Beaverton. 

    This dinner is for people at least 60 years old from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Beaverton Christian Church — 13600 S.W. Allen Blvd. Open to people of all ages from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Editor's note: This story originally quoted a spoeskwoman with Meals On Wheels People stating that the dinner at the Elsie Stuhr Center was open to seniors 60 years old or older. The dinner is actually open to all ages. The Valley Times regrets the error.

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