CHIMACUM — Converging on the Tri-Area Community Center for Thanksgiving: a mashup of volunteers.
Together they served 302 dinners of turkey and trimmings not only to people who had called ahead to sign up, but also to those who simply came by for a hot meal to go.
“I wanted to be with happy people. And people who are giving are happy,” said Renee Soule of Port Townsend, who joined Thursday’s crew.
She was among the volunteers who delivered Thanksgiving dinner to people in Quilcene and Brinnon as well as to Peter’s Place, Bayside Housing & Services’ tiny-home village in Port Hadlock.
Soule was back at the community center about halfway through the takeout meal-serving period from noon to 2 p.m., just as workers inside the kitchen responded to a fresh wave of drive-ups.
“Two! Four! Three more,” volunteers called out across the empty dining room, as their counterparts on the assembly line loaded to-go boxes with stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy.
“The big thing was that, early on, we didn’t have many reservations,” said veteran volunteer Anita Schmucker.
Then, in the last couple of days before Thanksgiving, the numbers doubled.
“We had to do an extra shopping trip,” Schmucker said, to provide also for the guests she knew would arrive at the last minute.
This was the second consecutive year for all-takeout and -delivery meals from the Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road.
The pandemic canceled the big sit-down dinner parties of pre-2020, but it didn’t cancel Thanksgiving — or Christmas, for that matter.
Another free community meal is planned on Dec. 25.
Thursday’s drive-up and takeout circuit was smooth: First, guests entered the parking lot, where volunteers, including Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Andy Pernsteiner, welcomed them. Then they were sent around the building to pick up their boxed dinners from the longtime volunteer who goes simply by Bob.
“I thank them for coming. They look at me like, ‘What?’ ” said Bob, who lives in Port Townsend.
“This is my way of giving back,” he added.
Back inside the center, workers included Laura Street and her husband Matt Patterson of Gardiner, Marcie Lammers of Chimacum, Judy Robinett of Marrowstone Island, Elena Lovato of Port Hadlock and Sean Liechti of Quilcene.
Taking a breath toward the end of the rush was Daltry Lammers, 11, of Chimacum. On this day, he had discovered his forte: the dishes.
“Are you going to do this again on Christmas?” his fellow volunteers asked.
Elsewhere on the North Olympic Peninsula, Hardy’s Market in Sequim offered free traditional Thanksgiving meals for take-out on Thursday, and Forks Feeding 5000 distributed a Thanksgiving-style to-go lunch on Tuesday.
The only sit-down community feast served this year was in Port Angeles, where the Salvation Army welcomed 70 guests.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]