Community Thanksgiving dinners bring people together
The first community Thanksgiving dinner at the Marlinton Elementary School last week was a success according to Leslie Shattuck, who organized the event.
"I was extremely impressed. We served about 130. I have turkeys and food leftover that we're taking to the food bank and we had almost $1,300 in donations we're passing on," said Shattuck.
"I'm just glad it wasn't a total disaster. I was thinking okay, we have no idea who is showing up, no idea how much food to cook," said Todd Kahler, who volunteered. "Don't give me any credit, Leslie had the master plan. I told her, 'run with it, girl.'
"She is really good at that, organizing things and dragging me into it," laughed Kahler.
Kahler says he was pleased with the turnout.
"What amazed me was the number of people that showed up. People that really cared, that gave money and supported. Between the donations, the food and the people that showed up, I was impressed. Apparently the community was ready and waiting for something like this. They jumped right in," said Kahler.
This was the first Thanksgiving Shattuck and her daughter Breana have spent in the area since moving here from South Carolina. In years past they always tried to do something to give back to the community.
"I'm big on community service. Breana and I always donate our time; food banks, food drives, soup kitchens, adopting families. I asked around and there wasn't anything going on here in town," said Shattuck.
Shattuck insists the dinner was about bringing people together.
"It wasn't a soup kitchen or a charity thing. It was about bringing a community together. It's about celebrating Thanksgiving, coming out and celebrating with neighbors and friends. Friends become family," said Shattuck. "One of the first guys that showed up, afterwards, he thanked me a thousand times over. He said I don't have any family here, I'm here by myself, there's no point in cooking Thanksgiving dinner just for one person. He said he got to socialize and have fun and see people that he didn't see regularly."
More than 40 volunteers pitched in by bringing in food, cooking at the school and serving meals.
"Even though she organized it, without help, without the volunteers, we couldn't have done it," said Kahler.
Shattuck says she appreciates everyone that helped make the dinner happen.
"I'm grateful to Mr. Hall at the elementary school. St. John's [Episcopal Church] was a lifesaver, they let us use their kitchen. Connie Zietler really came through. I'd like to thank all the volunteers, all the people that contributed and donated. I had a lot of people saying they were going to come help, it wasn't just talk, they all really showed up."
This was Andy Pincura's first Thanksgiving in Marlinton.
"The biggest thrill of the day was being a part of something. I was happy to make whatever little contribution I could. I guess that meant standing on the street frying turkeys, but that's fine by me," joked Pincura.
Pincura moved here from the U.S. Virgin Islands in July.
"I've done a lot of traveling, seen some exotic places, lived in exotic places but I love it here in Pocahontas County, Marlinton in particular. I think there are warm people here. Everybody has been so good to me since I moved to this county, this town. I feel pretty privileged and lucky myself, pretty thankful for a lot of things," said Pincura. "The turnout was fantastic, everybody I saw had a smile on their face. We all had a great time. It was great to get out and meet more people in the community. This kind of thing should happen as often as possible."
The Marlinton First Church of the Nazarene also held its 6th annual free Thanksgiving dinner. That dinner was also a success, according to Reverend Bill Kumpf.
"Our walk-in crowd was better than we've ever had. We served 154 folks. We do a good bit of delivery for people that can't make it in, maybe they're housebound or without a car," said Kumpf. "Whoever wants to show up, show up. It's free. If you need food delivered, call us, we'll deliver it to you."
The annual dinner went well, even with a "competing" community dinner being held in Marlinton.
"There was the community Thanksgiving dinner in town, we thought maybe we'd overcooked. We were actually right on the money. It went really well," said Kumpf.