GUILFORD, Maine — James Chastenay of Guilford and Patrick Taggett of Dover-Foxcroft had never met before Thursday, yet they sounded like childhood friends as they played a game at the Guilford United Methodist Church.
The two boys had come with their families to help serve the annual free Thanksgiving dinner.
“See, this is what it’s all about. It’s bringing people together,” organizer Kirsty Pratley of Guilford said. “It just feels like the right thing to do.”
While Pratley heads the annual event, which is free to all, she credits a host of volunteers who do everything from baking the pies and cakes to cleaning up afterward. Those volunteers on Thursday came from as far away as Belfast, according to Pratley.
All of the food — five turkeys, about 20 pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of onions, and 20 pounds of squash, along with peas, turnips, stuffing, cranberry sauce and desserts — were donated.
Stephen Dean, pastor of Guilford United Methodist Church, said Thursday that his church is happy to serve as the host site for the meal. In a time when there is so much bad news, Dean said, it is great to see so many people contribute to their community from all walks of life.
People need only look around to see the true blessings that surround them, he said.
Those blessings were evident as diners enjoyed the feast and the camaraderie of being with others.
Galen and Donna Goodreau of Guilford said this was the third or fourth year they had attended the community dinner. “It’s a day to be thankful; you meet a lot of friends,” Donna Goodreau said. The couple said they are typically alone at Thanksgiving but entertain their children at Christmas.
Seated at another table decorated with candles, Bea and Skip Patterson of Dexter said they had cooked for their children and their families over the years and decided to try something different this year. “It’s nice to have a church in the community put on a dinner like this,” Skip Patterson said.
Jo Nesbit of Guilford, who is fighting cancer, enjoyed the meal with her grandson, Jacob Nesbit, 9, of Guilford, her sister Lois Taylor of Bangor, and her brother Richard Nesbit of Guilford. “We really enjoy it,” Jo Nesbit said.
Others agreed. “This is wonderful; I think it’s a terrific thing to help people out,” Nancy Badger of Guilford said as she conversed with others at her table. Her mother, Thelma King, 83, said she had cooked for her family for years at Thanksgiving and it seemed nice to be waited on for a change.
Working toward that end was Ian Taggett, 10, of Dover-Foxcroft, who was hopping from one diner to another asking if they wanted coffee, tea or milk and if they had everything they needed.
“It’s generous and very fun to help people,” the young man said.