Ten-year-old Katherine Conlon hands out rolls at the Thanksgiving Eve meal at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Ten-year-old Katherine Conlon hands out rolls at the Thanksgiving Eve meal at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend church serves special meal on Thanksgiving Eve

PORT TOWNSEND — St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend served up an early Thanksgiving meal Wednesday for the seventh consecutive year.

This year’s meal was an extension of the church’s weekly Just Soup meals, which are open to the public for lunch every Wednesday.

“Today is special since it’s not just soup, obviously,” said Sue Cook, one of the organizers and chefs for Wednesday’s meal. “We put the effort in to make good homemade food.”

Wednesday’s meal, held at the church on Jefferson Street in uptown Port Townsend, boasted all the Thanksgiving favorites including mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, stuffing and, of course, turkey.

Started Monday

Cook, along with Linda Nolan and Elizabeth Bindschadler, started prepping for Wednesday’s meal on Monday — although Cook said they’d taken many shopping trips to collect ingredients before that.

“I was determined to make good gravy,” Cook said. “When you’re talking about a huge quantity like this, that can take awhile.”

According to Cook, the church usually serves 150 to 180 people during its annual Thanksgiving meal.

The meal is funded primarily by the church. The Just Soup program is in the church’s budget, according to Cook, but it also relies heavily on the community.

“It’s a very committed community that makes this happen,” Cook said. “If we’re running short, people are really good about contributing.”

The broth used in this year’s meal was donated by the Food Co-op, which also provides stocks for the weekly soup meals. Cakes, pies, cookies and other desserts were supplied by parish volunteers.

“You know what I love about this is it’s just so nonjudgmental,” said Bill Dentzel, who had just headed back for a second helping of mashed potatoes and gravy. “It’s just simple humanity.”

Cook said she’s seen a wide variety of people show up for this annual event, everyone from travelers passing through town to residents in need to community members just looking to socialize.

“We’re known for a good bowl of soup and good bread from our soup dinners,” Cook said. “Word gets around and we make good food. People come here and leave full.”

The church hosts Just Soup meals, which offer a free bowl of soup and bread from the Pane d’Amore bakery in Port Townsend, every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Feast today

Today, a community feast is planned at the Tri-Area Community Center in Chimacum.

The meal will be served from noon to 3 p.m. at the center at 10 West Valley Road.

For the first year, a donation of $8.50 is requested — but it is not required.

“If people can’t pay, that’s fine,” said Pete Leenhouts, past president of the East Jefferson County Rotary Club, which, with Olympic Community Action Programs, is sponsoring the meal.

The donation “is barely enough to cover costs,” Leenhouts said.

“Nobody’s intent on making any money on this. We just want to make a good meal for the community.”

A turkey dinner will be offered with all the trimmings, with local farms donating food, he said.

The response from potential volunteers is so great that they are now being placed on a waiting list, Leenhouts said.

They will work in shifts today — from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., from 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 2:45 p.m. to as along as it takes to clean up the community center. During the meal, a team of volunteers will deliver meals via car to shut-ins.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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