May 23, 2018
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Nourishing body and soul

By Meg Haskell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A well-attended Thanksgiving dinner at the Columbia Street Baptist Church marked the end of a “fantastic week” of food donation and distribution in Bangor, according to Bill Rae, director of the faith-based Manna Ministries.

About 150 people partook of the traditional turkey-and-mashed potatoes meal at the church, lingering over a plethora of pies and a bottomless supply of fresh-brewed coffee.

One person who enjoyed the food and camaraderie was Sue from Orono, who did not disclose her last name or her age.

“I like getting out,” she said. “My Thanksgiving routine is I watch the Macy’s parade on television. Then I left the house and came down here.”

Sue said she appreciated the opportunity to meet and talk with new people.

“I mostly come for the company,” she said, but she left with a thick chunk of carrot cake on a paper plate and an entire leftover pumpkin pie in a bag.

About 60 volunteers, most of them first-timers, kept things running smoothly at the event.

This was Manna’s second time hosting Bangor’s most popular free Thanksgiving feast, after taking it over from Cap’n Nick’s restaurant. Last year, the meal was held on the campus of the Bangor Theological Seminary. Rae said Thursday that the Columbia Street site is somewhat better-suited to the purpose and provides easier access for more people.

“This is right downtown; People can get here,” he said. He hopes more people will come next year after word gets out about the new location.

“We feel very strongly that we need to offer Bangor a Thanksgiving dinner,” Rae said. “Who else would do it if Manna didn’t?”

Over the past week, Rae said, Manna has taken in and given away about 5,800 turkeys and about 22,000 pounds of food collected by local radio personalities Mike and Mike at the Bangor Mall earlier in the week.

“Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas has officially begun at Manna,” Rae said. “We don’t even talk about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.”

People seeking Christmas gift assistance can now come in and sign up for “a need and a want,” Rae said. “A need might be a warm coat, and a want might be a toy,” he explained. The faith-based agency will try to match needy families with specific donors, but also will use donated funds to purchase some items.

Despite the widespread impact of the economic downturn, Rae said, “This community is awesome. They provide, they take care of others.”

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