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St. Vincent de Paul Society preps for annual Thanksgiving dinner

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MASSENA - The St. Vincent de Paul Society will be rolling out the welcome wagon again on Thursday at the Massena VFW, 101 W. Hatfield St.

They’ll once again be sponsoring their annual community Thanksgiving day dinner from 12 to 3 p.m. The meal is open to all at no charge.

Organizer Martha Slack said the meal with all the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings goes smoothly because of the community working together.

“We set up the turkey tree at Sacred Heart. Parishioners from Sacred Heart and St. Lawrence donate the turkeys. Parishioners from St. Joe’s and St. Mary donate the desserts,” she said.

It’s an army of turkeys that are prepared for the meal, Mrs. Slack said.

“We probably have, I would guess, upwards of maybe 28,” she said.

Students from Massena schools also help out, according to Mrs. Slack.

“On Wednesday we have kids from the National Honor Society, French Honor Society and confirmation classes that come down and help us peel 200 pounds of potatoes and set the tables,” she said.

Volunteers shop for items like the dressing, potatoes cranberry, butter, rolls and dinnerware, and they also get the dining room set up before the doors open Thursday at the VFW. Their Thanksgiving afternoon is spent helping out.

“We have probably 35 volunteers that come in and serve and get everything going on Thursday,” according to Mrs. Slack, who took over the organizational duties about three or four years ago from long-time organizers Robert and Carol Morgan.

“The first year I was a little harried. I think you get used to it. You just keep track of things, what went well, and people will tell you, ‘I think if we did this...,’” she said.

If you cook it, they will come, she said.

“Last year we did 380. It’s pretty steady right up until 3 o’clock. We try to shut down then,” she said, noting they want to get the volunteers home to enjoy some of their Thanksgiving day.

The folks who come to enjoy the meal do so for different reasons. In some cases, they want to spend their holiday with others, Mrs. Slack said.

“A lot of people do come in that maybe financially don’t need the meal, but they’re alone. I talked to a woman who said, ‘I can’t go home. I have to work on Friday.’ I said, ‘Hey, come on down,’” she recalled.

“A lot of people do that. They don’t want to be alone,” she said.

On the other hand, Mrs. Slack said, there are some who can’t afford to buy a meal on their own.

“A lot of them come in with the whole family. It’s really the only way that they’re going to have a Thanksgiving day dinner,” she said.

No matter what their reason, the dining room is open to everyone, she said. Those who need transportation can call 769-3434 on Thursday to arrange for a ride.

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