Serving A Need

A home-cooked meal and good company may seem like a staple of Thanksgiving for most, but for the less fortunate, finding either could pose difficult.

T.K. Ribbings Family Restaurant of Falconer closed its doors earlier this year, which put an end to a nearly 20-year tradition of providing area residents with a warm meal and fellowship to celebrate Thanksgiving. The restaurant would serve up to 1,500 meals some years, and now other area organizations are likely to have to pick up some of the slack.

One organization that will step forward is St. Susan Center, which annually opens its doors on Thanksgiving to serve meals. The soup kitchen will once again provide the service to area residents from noon-3 p.m. on Thursday. The meal will include: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, homemade squash, cranberry sauce, rolls, butter and pumpkin or apple pie.

According to Sue Colwell, executive director of St. Susan Center, in order to ensure the greater need of assistance is met, it will remain open for twice as long as it has in past years, as well as be prepared to serve more meals than usual.

“It’s sad that Ribbings closed because people who couldn’t afford to go to dinner were able to feel like they were eating out,” Colwell said. “It’s not only Ribbings that closed, the Joint Neighborhood Project’s pantry also closed. So, if not for here, where else would they go? We expect to have more visitors, and that’s why this year we’re serving for three hours instead of the normal hour and a half. We also have a bigger team of volunteers.”

The meal was made possible thanks to donations from the community, businesses and organizations, as well as the employees and volunteers who dedicate their time, some of whom wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on Thanksgiving, Colwell said.

“We have to be here on Thanksgiving – it’s not even an option that we would close,” Colwell said.

Much was done in preparation for the upcoming holidays, which has to do with the fact that Colwell and her team have seen an increase in the number of meals served throughout the year.

“Numbers are up, almost like it’s still summer,” Colwell said. “It seems like there’s more working poor, and there are new faces that we haven’t seen before.”

The task ahead may be daunting, but Colwell said she has faith that St. Susan Center will be able to continue meeting needs.

“It’s all because of our community, which always provides,” Colwell said. “I learned the hard way not to panic because St. Susan Center is God’s place where we pray and trust that people are going to come through with donations – and they always do.”

Those who wish to give back to St. Susan Center may opt to make a donation. According to Colwell, the center’s greatest need is gift cards to help purchase milk, which it serves every day.

St. Susan Center is located at The Gateway Center, 31 Water St. in Jamestown. For more information, call 664-2253 or visit www.stsusancenter.org.

The Ellington Community Food Pantry will also host a free Thanksgiving dinner at the Ellington Fire Hall, 769 Main St. in Ellington, from noon until the food is gone. For more information, call Dawn Russell at 287-3085.

Although it is not serving prepared meals, The Salvation Army food pantry will be open to provide uncooked Thanksgiving meals today from 10 a.m. to noon and 1-3:30 p.m. For more information, call 664-4108 or visit 83 S. Main St. in Jamestown.