OSSINING, N.Y. Every year for the last four years Elana Soumarro and her mom Dolores Bush spend Thanksgiving with friends. Soumarro said that she and her mom live below the poverty line and are not able to buy and prepare a real Thanksgiving feast. So they have become regulars at the free Thanksgiving lunch held each year at the First Presbyterian Church on South Highland Avenue in Ossining.
"The food is very good," Soumarro said. "And we enjoy sharing the meal with some of the people who we meet here every year." One of those people is David Maxwell. "Many of us don't have a family,and we enjoy the fellowship and the good food," Maxwell said who sits with Bush and Soumarro every year. "I look forward to it."
About 130 people were served Thanksgiving meals last year, said the Pastor of First Presbyterian, Rev. Lynda Clements. And another 35 people, including people in nursing homes and people who can't easily leave their homes, were delivered take-out meals. An equal number is expected this year but Clements said they prepared for more.
Volunteers spend days in the kitchen helping to prepare, serve and deliver food. It does not end there, volunteers clean up everything. Clements said food is served on regular plates, not disposable plates.
Nancy Taylor is one of those volunteers. She and her husband Mark started out as volunteers when their kids were babies in car seats. "We would load up the car and make deliveries wherever they were needed," Taylor said.
Now Jen, 17 and Matthew, 15, spent Wednesday night peeling 100 pounds of potatoes and Thursday morning mashing them and serving them. Serving along with the Taylor family is the Franzoso family,
Mark Franzoso said the he, his mom, sister, and nieces begin every Thanksgiving at First Presbyterian serving those in need, and then travel back to Croton for their own holiday dinner.
Clements said that Thanksgiving is one of the greatest holidays because it's completely universal. It's not tied to one faith or one event in history. "We give thanks and enjoy the fruits of the earth with each other," Clements said.
Soumarro agreed. "Everyone here is so kind," Soumarro said. "We enjoy the food, the conversation, and a sense of being together."
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