EATON —The annual Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner served 751 people on Thursday, Nov. 28.
With the support of the Preble County community, this is the 24th year the meal has served hundreds in the area, bringing together people in need on the holiday. Two hundred and eighty seven individuals were served in person, 296 meals were delivered, and 168 meals were taken home.
Miami Valley Community Action Partnership (MVCAP) organizes the event annually. According to Preble County Director Janelle Caron, the event is possible through donations from community members and organizations. The meal allows for socializing and gives those less fortunate a place to have a warm meal.
“A lot of people look forward to it and the whole community gets involved with volunteering or donating. A lot of people don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving, so they come here to spend it with their family or to see their friends in the community. It’s very heartwarming to see that,” Caron said.
Food and supplies for the event cost approximately $5,000 yearly. Funds are donated through letters to businesses.
The event allows for people to have meals delivered to their homes, carry-out meals, or to eat dine-in at the Community Dinner. The meal is completely free for anyone who is interested. Over the years, the delivery aspect of the dinner has continued to grow.
Not only is money for the food donated, but people throughout the county volunteer their time and effort on Thanksgiving Day to cook, serve, and deliver this meal to hundreds. There were over 100 individuals who volunteered their time this year.
“It’s very humbling to see how many people will give up their holiday and be a part of making someone else’s life easier,” Caron said.
Constance Haney has been volunteering at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner for five years. While she does not live in Preble County, she stays with her sister overnight and takes a couple plates home to her family.
“I love serving [food]. I do this at church too. I like taking time to say, ‘Happy Thanksgiving to you.’ I just enjoy the people — this is who I am,” she said. “There are a lot of people who don’t have money, or family, and a lot of people who sit [on the holiday] and have nothing.
“I’m glad this community can take the time to say, ‘We love you and God bless you.’ We want to show from our hearts the kindness of the community.”
Victoria Caudill is an employee with Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities and has been volunteering at the meal for approximately 13 years. She believes it is a “blessing” that people in the Preble County community have an option so they’re not spending the holiday alone.
“They can get a meal, take one home – I feel so good doing this. I know lots of people coming through here. Our family comes here too for Thanksgiving. You get to see each other and you get to put a smile on someones face. We have a wonderful little town here in Eaton,” she said.
Janet Denlinger has volunteered for the community meal for 10 years. She enjoys helping others and “being the hand and feet of Jesus.”
“It’s all about giving,” she said. “These people need somebody else to eat with and be served and enjoy food – sometimes their pantries may be empty, but a lot of it is being with others. That’s part of what happiness is about. I see joy here.”
Caron added, “I would like to express my appreciation to all those involved that help make this day a success. Without the support of the community we would not be able to provide this meal. It is a pleasure to see Preble County come together for this event. Thank you!”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH