T hanksgiving is an occasion to come together and enjoy the fellowship of family and friends. On Thursday, Maxine Willis will do just that, but with a very large and extended family.
Willis is one of several volunteers who helps organize the Companions in Christ Fellowship Committee’s annual Thanksgiving dinner, which will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at the Whitehall United Methodist Church.
Willis said on Thanksgiving her family expands to include everyone who attends the meal, which makes a very large family, considering volunteers typically serve between 200 and 300 people.
“There are a lot of people who don’t have someone to eat with or can’t afford the expense,” Willis said. “That’s our main focus, to give people who are alone a place to eat.”
“A lot people come for the fellowship.”
The annual event, now in its ninth year, puts the “community” back in community Thanksgiving dinner.
The entire meal, from the turkey to the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie, is bought using donations generously given by local businesses and individuals.
Members of Willis’ immediate family and parishioners spend countless hours leading up to Thanksgiving preparing the meal. Her son, Francis, who owns the Gourmet Café in Glens Falls, heads up the kitchen, and local Boy Scouts and members of the National Honor Society at Whitehall High School lend a hand serving the meals.
“It’s been going on long enough that people know it’s here so they help when they’re available,” Willis said. “It’s great how the community comes together.”
Willis said the staff of the Equinox in Albany provided the initial instruction in how to pull a meal of this size off efficiently.
“It’s a big undertaking. You can’t do it one day,” said Willis, who says the dinner has inspired other community meals in the area.
A lot of the prep work and cooking is done on Wednesday so volunteers can concentrate on serving diners and enjoying the meal themselves.
The meal is completely free and deliveries can be arranged for people who can’t physically attend the meal. Reservations are not required.
If you would like to arrange a meal to be delivered call Willis at 499-1565 or the church at 499-0851.
The church is located at 56 Greenmount Cemetery Lane off of County Route 12 in Whitehall.