Thanksgiving is all about sharing our bounty with family, friends, and neighbors. We enjoy trying new recipes for stuffing, sparring lightly over whether it is pumpkin or apple pie that’s the perfect slice of heaven, and deciding who will bring the favorite must-have sides to complement the turkey, the star of the show. Sharing with others is a meaningful and celebrated custom that draws us closer together during the holidays, and was the core value which led to the formation of long-standing local food drives, generous holiday donations, and six years ago, the Scarborough Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
Among Scarborough’s longstanding holiday traditions are the annual food drives and special gifts to the Scarborough Food Pantry. For the past 10 years or so, Scarborough Kiwanis Club has been donating about 100 turkeys to the Scarborough Food Pantry and School Nutrition’s “Backpack” supplemental food program at Wentworth School. Kiwanis leader, Ava Adams, says the Scarborough Kiwanis Club “always looks forward to providing turkeys to families in our community for Thanksgiving. We hope everyone has a joyful holiday.”
Local businesses and organizations get involved, too. Project GRACE organizes an annual “Fixings” food drive for the Scarborough Food Pantry. This month Hillcrest sent a bus around their neighborhood collecting donations; Infinity Credit Union stuffed an SUV to the brim with fixings, and neighbors from all over town brought boxes, bags, and bundles of good cheer and food for their neighbors. Many paused to visit, smiling and glad to be a part of something bigger, a part of a generous and compassionate community.
Throughout the holiday season we savor the time we have with those we love, and we think about others. We give, a little or a lot, whatever we can of our time, so that others do not want, so that our community is made whole through caring. This bright spirit still inspires the hosts of the annual Scarborough Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Usually served as a buffet at Wentworth School, but now shifted to curbside pickup, the many businesses, organizations, and friends in Scarborough lend a helping hand. At the heart of it all are the neighbors who come for dinner or pick up a meal for a friend. “Scarborough is a wonderful community with great fabric from the caring, giving, loving folks who volunteer and help others,” says Eddie Woodin, who was among the first to champion the idea of a community dinner.
This year 1,000 roast turkey dinners with all the traditional fixings (and pie!) will be prepared by Chef Peter Esposito and the School Nutrition team. It is an all-hands-on-deck effort, with volunteers from the Town Community Services, Public Works, Public Safety, and the community are pitching in. “I am so proud of my town and the volunteers who contribute time and talent to this annual event,” says Town Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina. “So many of my constituents would have no Thanksgiving without their efforts. Thank you. Thank you.”
Scarborough Public Safety personnel are among the quiet heroes who don chef’s aprons and help in the kitchen, spend hours keeping cars safely moving during curbside pick-up, and go door-to-door bringing a cheery greeting and meal to neighbors. “Thanksgiving is just another way we serve the community,” say Det. Eric Greenleaf and Sgt. Steve Thibodeau. “It brings us great pleasure to assist those who benefit from a home-cooked and heartfelt holiday meal.”
Linda Halleran, Community Engagement Manager at Town & Country Federal Credit Union, reflecting on their annual gift, says, “Scarborough’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner has grown into a wonderful tradition bringing together local businesses, municipal government, non-profit groups and neighbors to serve the community. In the spirit of our ‘Local Helping Local’ initiative, Town & Country Federal Credit Union is pleased to be a sponsor of this event.”
BlueWave Solar is a new sponsor who stepped forward this year to match the leadership gifts offered by Woodin & Co. and Ameriprise of Scarborough. “One of our core values is ‘we do it together,’ and believe in showing up as a member of the communities we live in, work in, and support,” says Alan Robertson, Managing Director of Solar Development at BlueWave. “We are proud to work with Project GRACE and all the partners to ensure all members of the Scarborough community are able to celebrate Thanksgiving with a holiday meal.”
With the warmest of wishes to all our neighbors, with the greatest of gratitude for the love and caring that shines so brightly this time of year, we wish one and all a very Happy Thanksgiving.
This article & photograph originally appeared in a Portland Press Herald post on November 19, 2021 by Steffi Cox.