A time to gather, eat | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A time to gather, eat

Greg Risling

They came in from the cold.

The small, huddled mass waited for the wooden doors to swing open and escape from the first significant snowfall.

Bundled in parkas and scarves, they stood in line – young and old, parents and the elderly, the disabled and the drifter. Upon entering the parish hall, the warmth was felt inside and out.

Thanksgiving is a time to gather, whether it’s a family or an extension of one.

Turkey day traditionally kicks off the holiday season, when credit lines bulge as do waistlines. Thanksgiving does hold some value in people’s heart. It’s an annual recognition by people who start thinking more about the unfortunate and less about themselves. Just ask.

Around Lake Tahoe, volunteers spent Wednesday consoling, feeding and listening to people whom otherwise would be strangers. The string of humanity was seen at centralized locations – churches, businesses and the food pantry. If charity was a metal, it was gold on Wednesday.

At St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, the annual Bread and Broth program had hundreds of recipients. Sierra Community Church extended its hand and was well-received by patrons. And, at businesses and schools, cardboard boxes full of canned goods were stacked into vehicles and distributed throughout Tahoe.

Meals are a big part of the autumn holiday. Some who struggle to make ends meet are busily scarfing the piles of mash potatoes and turkey. It may be one of the few times their stomachs are entirely satisfied.

“I am stuffed,” said Geoff, who was passing through town when he heard about the free meal. “I have a place to go for Thanksgiving but it’s kind of hazy after that. I appreciate the groups that offer food and supplies.”

Joanne, freezing from the cold weather, hoped that more people could be this nice all of the time.

“We’re all involved in our little worlds,” she said. “It’s a shame more of us aren’t friendly and charitable.”

Seventy-five Bread and Broth volunteers know about kindness. Leading up to Wednesday’s event, some of them spent up to six hours a day preparing the four-course dinner. Started in 1989, Bread and Broth was established to connect the community with the church in another way. Every week, the needy can get a hot meal. The food is what they come for but sometimes it’s the sentiment behind it that counts the most.

“There really isn’t place for them to get a hot meal,” said Paulenine Salvato, who coordinates the volunteers. “We work together and know how to get along. We hope we can pass that on.”

Wendy David, another contributor, echoed her comments.

“I think programs like this defines a community,” she said. “It makes it obvious how we treat each other. We are only as strong as when and how much we help others.”

Adults can see the outpouring during Thanksgiving. Kids have images of pumpkin pie, pilgrims and Indians, and colorful turkey feathers. There doesn’t have to be a universal theme to Thanksgiving.

“We’re going to our grandma’s house,” said Mercedes and Anastasia Richards, excited about the prospects of eating dessert and a vacation from school. “We’re going to play and have a celebration.”

It goes without saying: Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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