All were welcomed in from the rain to the Community Thanksgiving dinner Thursday to find a small army of smiling volunteers ready to serve up steaming plates of traditional holiday food and drinks.
Lead Pastor Roger Bodenstab estimated 120 volunteers came forward to help with every aspect of the dinner. Volunteers set up the tables and place settings, arranged all the place settings and served food to tables.
He noted that Terri Sandler had been organizing the dinner for over 25 years and Sutter Coast Hospital took over when she retired.
“This year, they invited Foursquare (Church) to get the volunteers for the front of the house and they did it all in the back of the house,” Bodenstab said. “We have about 120 (volunteers) here from the community, from different churches and organizations. Walmart gave us a community grant of $1,000 to help pay for food, as well.”
By 12:30 p.m., about 75 percent of the tables were full. At just over halfway through the dinner, Bodenstab estimated about 350 dinners had been served.
“It’s been going very smoothly,” he said, laughing. “I’ve never had an event where I had too many volunteers but this year we had a lot of people coming out.”
He noted while the original concept behind the dinner was to provide for homeless, the elderly and families in need, the dinner has grown over the years to welcome the entire community.
“This is my family’s Thanksgiving,” Bodenstab said. “We just had dinner here.”
Manager of Cardiopulmonary and Nutritional Services David McPhail estimated about 20 Sutter Coast volunteers were working food lines. Nutritional Supervisor Karen Castro, said the hospital purchased to food from its vendor service.
“It was a few days of preparation for us,” Castro said. “It was a lot of work but it was well worth it. We’ve had a lot of happy people.”
As the last few were enjoying their meals, volunteers broke down tables and put away more than 400 chairs before cleaning the 13,000-plus square-foot building. In about 45 minutes, one could hardly tell hundreds of people had just enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast there.
Reach Tony Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org