Volunteer Jim Simcoe of Port Townsend ladles gravy at the Thanksgiving meal at the Tri-Area Community Center in Chimacum. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Volunteer Jim Simcoe of Port Townsend ladles gravy at the Thanksgiving meal at the Tri-Area Community Center in Chimacum. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

‘Make people feel welcome’: Thanksgiving meal continues Tri-Area center tradition

CHIMACUM — More than 60 volunteers came out on a windy Thursday to provide a community Thanksgiving feast at the Tri-Area Community Center.

From noon to 3 p.m., they served such Thanksgiving favorites as turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.

Community members of all ages helped cook and serve food, seat diners, clean and bus tables, and do dishes.

“This is my third year doing this,” said Bob Segui, who was working at the front door greeting community members as they arrived.

“I just try and make people feel welcome. It’s just my way of giving back to the community.”

Although the meal was offered free, this year donations were requested to help offset the $4,000 cost, said Pete Leenhouts, volunteer coordinator for the East Jefferson County Rotary Club, which worked with Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) to host the meal.

“Really, we just hope to break even,” Leenhouts said soon after the meal began at noon. “The meal is free, so people can donate if they want. We do have about $150 donated already.”

In addition to volunteers, farmers from Midori, Red Dog, Finnriver and Boulton also stepped up to donate nearly 500 pounds of fresh produce for Thursday’s meal.

“They [the Rotary Club] were kind of scrambling for food,” said Elisabet Skyhawk, a volunteer from Port Townsend.

“I drove around to all these places, and this is important, every one of them said, ‘How much do you need?’ ”

OlyCAP chef Gabe Santiago worked until 10 p.m. Wednesday prepping food and was back in the kitchen at 6 a.m. Thursday to start cooking the more than 200 meals that would be served to the local community, Leenhouts said.

Sixty meals were requested for delivery to private homes, and Leenhouts expected to get roughly 50 orders for takeout meals.

“We usually see around 170 people here, depending on the weather,” Leenhouts said. “One year, when the weather was really nice, I think they served 325 people.”

This is the second year that OlyCAP and the Rotary Club worked together to make the meal happen.

OlyCAP has been sponsoring a Thanksgiving dinner at the Tri-Area Community Center for at least 24 years, according to Leenhouts.

Community feasts also were served Thursday in Sequim, Port Angeles and Forks.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].

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