HOULTON, Maine — Clarence King came because he did not want to do dishes.
Bob Martin came because he couldn’t afford a turkey.
Molly Bailey came because she wanted to help.
Three reasons led three people, plus more than 100 others, to St. Mary Catholic Church on Thanksgiving Day to participate in the church’s free holiday dinner.
Some, like King and Martin, were there to eat or take home meals to relatives and friends. Others, such as Bailey and more than 15 other volunteers, were there to help cook and serve the dinner.
Less than 20 minutes after the doors opened, more than 100 people already had been through the serving line. Volunteers hustled around the kitchen and dining room, serving up turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, gallons of gravy, vegetables and rolls. In the kitchen, volunteers manned the stoves and helped usher dozens of desserts to the dessert table.
Littleton resident Cruz Cruz, one of the volunteers, spent the afternoon doling out turkey and ham.
“I got here at 7 a.m.,” she said, noting that volunteers also spent 12 hours at the church on Wednesday preparing for the meal. “It has been a wonderful turnout so far. It is great to do this for people who need a meal or do not want to eat alone.”
Bailey was manning the dessert table. The longtime volunteer said she was pleased to take part in the event and to see so many people attend the dinner.
King, a Houlton resident, came to the event just after noon.
“I just didn’t feel like doing dishes,” he said. “Dinner was great. I brought my whole family.”
Martin was headed into the church to see if he could get takeout meals for himself, his mother and son.
“I got laid off last year,” he said. “This is the first time I have ever been unable to put a Thanksgiving meal on the table for my family. It is hard. My son is home watching the parade, the house is decorated, but it doesn’t really feel like Thanksgiving because I don’t have a dinner to put on the table.”
Martin said that he read about the dinner in the newspaper.
“I am glad someone is doing this,” he said. “I never thought I would need this kind of help, but I do. I am glad it’s here.”