Thanksgiving for 600 people
For the last ten years, a free Thanksgiving meal has been served at Scout Hall, Bethel Island's community center. Usually 200-300 people show up to enjoy the feast. This year, nine (9) days before Thanksgiving, our Chamber of Commerce manager, Cha-Cha, found out that the church group from Antioch which had been putting on the dinner was not going to do it this year.
Cha-Cha posted a notice on our Bethel Island Facebook page and asked for help. She said it "was an overwhelming request for me to even comprehend." Help poured in. Offers of money from businesses and service groups and individuals, turkeys from the grocery store and restaurants, pies, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, aluminum containers and paper and plastic supplies were all donated. People volunteered to come to Scout Hall and cook during the days before Thanksgiving. The hall has a well-equipped kitchen and large professional refrigerators so this was possible. Other people cooked at home and brought their platters and bowls full of hot food to the hall Thanksgiving morning.
The Island population is around 2,500 people (including neighboring Hotchkiss Tract). The annual dinner is served to anyone who walks in the door, and is delivered to shut-ins that day. There are many single people on the island, and we have a high population of elderly folks because this is a retirement place.
Cha-Cha reported the next day that an "astounding number of meals were provided -- 535 meals were served at the hall and delivered to shut-ins. Gosh, I was flabbergasted." Bags of packaged-good groceries were given to those who needed them on Thanksgiving when they left after their meal.
On Friday morning, a group arrived at the hall to bag up the remaining food for the Food Bank where another 65 people were fed. Cha-Cha said, "Thank you certainly does not seem like adequate praise to you. But we did it. . . . To see the smiling faces, to see. . . .groups of friends gather to share a meal rather than sitting at home alone. You all made it possible. Aloha Nui Loa. ..."
As if that were not enough, Saturday morning we saw Cha-Cha and her good friend Ron Dolittle in the community park next to Scout Hall unpacking containers of outdoor Christmas decorations and lights. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is the traditional day to get the park ready for the holidays.
Scout Hall in the background
Ron attached lights to the light poles using a tall ladder that Scott Bigness provided, and Dorreen Oxford brought some new (to us) decorations for this year, including a singing Santa for the sleigh.