The food on the table is sumptuous, but for 700 people battling serious illnesses, this year’s menu includes a healthy serving of generosity.
Celebrating Thanksgiving at Food & Friends included 600 volunteers preparing, wrapping, and delivering full feasts to men, women, and children referred to the regional nonprofit group by their medical providers.
Before the sun came up Thanksgiving morning, several members of the Platinum Dreams Motorcycle Club were wrapping turkeys in aluminum foil and placing them in sturdy cardboard boxes to pair with all the foods that make up the holiday feast.
“Stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, greens, green beans, corn, rolls, cranberry sauce, fruit and two pies,” said Carrie Stoltzfus, executive director of Food & Friends.
The group has delivered more than two million meals to over 33,000 clients since its founding in 1988. In 1999, 200 volunteers delivered 2,000 meals.
In addition to buying, preparing and paying for the food — thanks to donations from the public — volunteers are allowing people facing serious medical challenges to enjoy a few hours with people close to them.
“By providing a feast, we are allowing clients to say thank you to their own friends and family who have helped take care of them throughout the year, and we’re giving them the opportunity to host their loved ones in their homes,” Stoltzfus said.
Volunteer Eileen Redmond, sporting a leather motorcycle jacket, recalls looking forward to Thanksgiving as a child.
“That’s why it’s important for us, as parents, to make sure our children are involved [in the volunteer effort] because we don’t know, and some people are a doctor’s visit away from being ill,” she said.
Another volunteer, Catherine Floyd, applauded the mission of Food & Friends, saying a healthy meal and goodwill are always appetizing — some years more than others.
“Honestly, life throws a lot of different things at you,” she said.