Hundreds show up for free Thanksgiving dinner

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 4:35 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - More than 350 people were served a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday afternoon at Manna Meal in Charleston as part of a partnership with the annual Frank Veltri dinner.

Volunteers put together a feast, including all the fixings and sides, for anyone to stop by and enjoy for free. The Thanksgiving tradition has a special place in the community for both organizers and people who rely on the food for their holiday meal.

“Thanksgiving is a day to count your blessings,” Manna Meal Executive Director Amy Wolfe said. “We feel that everyone has something to be thankful for, so we really like to embrace that and offer everyone a really nice traditional meal.”

“This meal is special because not only is it a Thanksgiving meal, but it is an opportunity to be around other people just like me,” William Foster said. “Lonesome, lonely, and needing someone to be around that they can enjoy a meal with as their family and friends.”

Volunteers spent all week preparing for the feast and arrived around 4:30 a.m. Thursday for the final preparations. It included more than 20 turkeys, 50 lbs. of mashed potatoes and hundreds of slices of pie.

“It’s easy to complain about the way the world is going, and it’s not that hard to do something to help out and make it a little better,” Manna Meal Operations Manager Dave Harrison said.

Harrison helped set up an assembly line in the kitchen for people to build the meals for community members, including the homeless and less fortunate. The boxes featured large servings of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole and rolls.

In addition to providing funding for this in-person meal, the Frank Veltri Foundation also delivered meals to people across the area. Wolfe said that allowed Manna Meal to feed more people, reach more people and do more for the community.

“We try to make it extra special,” Wolfe said. “You know, they’re in a little bit better to go boxes, and we try to make it very jovial, provide a sense of community. We know a lot of these individuals by name. I can tell you where they stay and what they do. It’s a community and we are really happy to provide them dinner today.”

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