PORT ANGELES — Nearly 300 holiday meals were served at an early Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday at the Port Angeles Salvation Army.
Volunteers prepared 38 turkeys, 18 gallons of mashed potatoes and 13 gallons of gravy for 285 people who were in need or who have made community dinners part of their holiday tradition, organizers said.
“We see a little bit of everybody,” said Maj. Ron Wehnau, who heads the Port Angeles Salvation Army with his wife, Barbara.
John Yeo of Sequim attended the Salvation Army feast alone Wednesday because the painter he is working with declined his invitation.
He also left his wallet at home, he said.
“I read in the paper about various dinners being served at various places and I said well, I’m part of the public, too,” Yeo said.
Yeo said he regularly eats lunch at the Port Angeles Senior Center.
“Because I’m diabetic, they offer me a soup, half a sandwich and a sugarless Jell-O,” Yeo said while feasting on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, fruit and vegetables, and pie.
“And that’s perfect for me for lunch. I’m overdoing it with this.”
Ron Wehnau said the Salvation Army planned for a 50 percent increase in attendance because the Thanksgiving Day feast at the Queen of Angles Catholic Church was canceled this year.
Last year, the Salvation Army in Port Angeles fed nearly 200 on Thanksgiving eve.
“We’ve cooked for 400, but we planned for about 300 compared to the 200 we had last year,” Wehnau said before the meal began. “We can handle 400 if it comes to that.”
The Salvation Army at 206 S. Peabody St. typically serves those who are homeless or couch surfing and seniors who enjoy the camaraderie, Wehnau said.
“There’s some fellowship time,” Wehnau said.
“But during this time of the year, we’ll see a lot of the people that don’t have family in the area and they want that one good meal.
“For some folks, this is just a tradition,” Wehnau added.
“They’ve always come to the [Salvation] Army or to one of the community meals on Thanksgiving as part of their holiday tradition.”
Here are some community Thanksgiving dinners scheduled for today in Clallam County:
• Serenity House of Clallam County will host a Thanksgiving dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 2321 W. 18th St.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a favorite side dish. People bringing cooked turkeys are welcomed. Donations and volunteers also are welcomed.
Early van drivers can pick up starting at 4 p.m.
Serenity House stepped up to offer a Thanksgiving feast after the annual dinner at Queen of Angels church was canceled because organizers were unable to find a coordinator, ending an 11-year tradition.
For more information about the Serenity House meal, call 360-452-7224.
• The Sequim Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4760 and Sun Taxi are sponsoring a free community Thanksgiving dinner from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the post hall at 169 E. Washington St., in a to-go box but diners also can eat at the VFW if preferred.
Organizers will also accept donations of coats, clothing and socks for Serenity House during the meal,
• Hardy’s Market in Sequim will offer free traditional Thanksgiving meals while supplies last beginning at 11 a.m. at the market, 10200 Old Olympic Highway.
Meals can be dine-in or takeout, one per person.
Organizers request that no one come early.
For more information, call 360-582-0240.
• A traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner today at Trinity United Methodist Church is fully booked, according to organizers.
As of Monday, the church had filled its reservation list and is no longer accepting names.
• Forks community churches will host a free Thanksgiving dinner from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Forks Community Center, 91 Maple Ave.
For more information or to volunteer, call Laura Lafernz at 360-374-4093.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].