Crowds turn out for Thanksgiving meal

Tom Lotshaw
Volunteers Cindy Archer, Laure Tolstad and Donna Hawksford serve food Monday at Bread & Broth's community Thanksgiving dinner in South Lake Tahoe.
Tom Lotshaw / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

Bread & Broth volunteers threw open the doors to Grace Hall at St. Theresa Catholic Church on Monday for their annual community Thanksgiving dinner in South Lake Tahoe.

Laura Fraley and husband, Michael Fraley, were among the 226 people who stopped by to share a meal. After some turkey and a piece of pie, Michael Fraley gave his best to the chefs.

“The turkey was wonderful and moist. You could taste the sage in the stuffing,” he said.

Laura Fraley complimented volunteers for their hard work to put on the 25th annual community Thanksgiving meal.

“These people are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s amazing to see people put in so much time for the good of the community,” she said.

Bread & Broth offers free hot meals every Monday.

Volunteers strive to offer fresh, nutritious and tasty food they would be proud to serve in their own homes, and they have not missed a single meal since starting the program in 1989, director Diane Weidinger said.

Weidinger added that the group pulls out all the stops for its Thanksgiving dinner, a free event open to anyone and everyone.

About 30 volunteers spent six hours on Saturday and another six hours on Sunday preparing food for the meal. That job carried into Monday, with one woman getting back to work at about 6 a.m. to finish the yams.

“We do everything by hand,” Weidinger said.

“We cooked the turkey breasts on Saturday,” she said. On Sunday we made the stuffing using 45 loaves of bread we cut up into little squares and toasted, and we cut up all the onions, celery and carrots. We also made fresh cranberry sauce. We don’t like that stuff out of the jar.”

An array of turkey, mashed potatoes, salad and pies awaited visitors as they lined up and entered the hall. Generous donations from restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses and families make the meals possible, Weidinger said.

Guests included the homeless, senior citizens on fixed incomes, people without a family to share Thanksgiving and those who can’t afford a traditional Thanksgiving meal of their own.

Giveaway bags full of extra bread, pastries and pasta were given out to 120 people in need of food this holiday season. Fifty hats knitted by one volunteer also were given out to children.

Weidinger said it’s fulfilling to see people come and enjoy the meals. The volunteers enjoy them, too.

“We really enjoy this. As volunteers, it gives us a sense of accomplishment and well-being,” she said. “We love seeing people come out and for them to say that was a terrific meal,” she said.

Leftovers are being taken to the Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church for a Thanksgiving dinner there on Friday.

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