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Cortez church prepares for annual Thanksgiving dinner

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, volunteers get ready for annual feast
Volunteers serve up a Thanksgiving Day dinner at St. Barnabas Church in 2013. From right are Jazmon Clark, Christie Berner, Janice Hansen, Laura White, Michael Maloy and Mike Dohn.

Volunteers are gearing up for Cortez’s annual Thanksgiving Day dinner.

Grace’s Soup Kitchen, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, will serve a free dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 24. The church has organized a Thanksgiving dinner for about 15 years. St. Barnabas priest Leigh Waggonersaid she expects about 250 to attend.

“We’ve had people deboning turkeys for weeks now,” she said.

More than 50 volunteers have signed up to help cook and serve the meal, which Waggoner promised would be “quite a feast.” As usual, the church will serve turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy and other traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. Volunteers also will deliver to people who are homebound if they sign up for delivery by Wednesday, Nov. 16.

The event is put on entirely by local volunteers, who prepare the food and set things up or to wait tables and greet guests. Although Grace’s could still use a few more volunteers, especially for Thanksgiving morning, Waggoner said there are always plenty of people in the Cortez area willing to step up.

“This community is so generous,” she said. “People come forward every year with donations of food and money, to volunteer ... it’s an exceptional community in many ways, and one of those ways is that we take care of each other.”

The Thanksgiving dinner isn’t just about food – it’s also a way to help neighbors meet one another in a calm, friendly environment. Waggoner said the church started the tradition to give residents a time for people to “be thankful together,” especially those who didn’t have family to celebrate with. It has consistently drawn large crowds of people from all income levels.

“I love watching people who typically eat at Grace’s every week eating with people who don’t – who have means – people who might not meet each other otherwise,” Waggoner said. “It’s just great to have everybody together.”

The church could still use a few more food donations to fill out the tables on Thanksgiving, especially pies. Waggoner expects everything to go smoothly this year, because the church has established a “working system” that holds few surprises, but she did say they always welcome financial donations.

If you go

What: Community Thanksgiving dinner

Where: St. Barnabas Episcopal Church,110 W. North St., Cortez

When: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24

For more information: To donate, volunteer or sign up for home delivery, call the church office at 970-565-7865. The deadline to request a delivery, if homebound, is Nov. 16.

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