The Community Meals Network, which provides monthly free meals, put on a free Thanksgiving Day Dinner at Derry’s Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration last month. Organizer Mimi Cagle deemed it a great success, especially from the volunteer point of view.
“It was a tremendous success,” she said. “Volunteers came in from the affiliated organizations, of course, but also from the community after seeing the article in the Nutfield News. We served between 80 and 90 people; a few came specifically because they had no power at home.
“I’m not sure I could even count the volunteers,” she added. “One woman was a former chef and cooked four turkeys for us after determining that they were not completely thawed and helping us with that little problem. She worked steadily on the Wednesday before and the Thursday of Thanksgiving and I don’t even know her address. It would all have been scarier and much more difficult without her.”
Cagle said another volunteer, who had moved to New Hampshire from Texas, wanted to help because she grew up doing similar activities with her family, and brought her 7- and 9-year-old boys to help. And she noted that a man volunteered for setup, serving and cleanup.
“A new neighbor of mine, Mary Trudeau, who moved with her family here from Vermont this summer, asked what she could do to help,” Cagle added. “She made two of the pies and helped with setup and serving. A young man helped set up, acted as greeter at the door, and helped serve. So much help from so many people.”
She thanked La Carreta, which donated “to-go” containers and rolls; the Derry Hannaford Supermarket, which donated bread; All Around Self Storage, which donated three turkeys; and Panera, which donated bread, although snow prevented Cagle from getting it.
She said that the Nutfield News’ front page article announcing the dinner contributed much to the event’s success. “We kept getting business and individual volunteer calls after that,” Cagle said.
She said Granite House Sober Living Facility sent 20 young men to volunteer, who helped by hauling trash bags during the cleanup. Granite House received all the leftovers.
Table centerpieces and a door-prize fruit basket came from local Girl Scout troops, and anonymous donors provided door prizes, including hand-knit scarves and mittens, decorative items, and pies.
“All in all it was a community effort and served the community well, especially after the snow and the power outages,” Cagle concluded.