Ron Miller of Brookfield had never attended Brookfield Township Outreach Association’s free community Thanksgiving dinner before.
He came at the encouragement of his mom, Elinor, and cousin, Marsha Jones, who have dined for a number of years.
“I think it’s very cool,” Miller said. “It’s a nice tradition.”
Miller said he was heartened to see the young people who volunteered to help out.
“They’re doing a good job,” he said.
This year’s dinner fed more then 1,100 people, 900 who came to the township fire hall Nov. 20, and another 200 who couldn’t make it in person but accepted deliveries, said BTOA Trustee Judi Burdette.
“I was well-satisfied with how things went this year,” she said.
Organizers purchased a little less food so there wouldn’t be as much leftover – the leftovers were taken to the Warren Rescue Mission – and the dinner attracted more volunteers than had been expected.
“We had loads of volunteers this year and that was very pleasant: to have someone not know what to do,” she quipped. “Just wait, we’ll find a job for you.”
The kitchen cleanup seemed to be ahead of schedule and the members of the Brookfield Township Volunteer Firemen’s Auxiliary “didn’t look as tired as they did last year,” she said.
“It’s hard to believe that they can do this,” said diner Don Floding of Brookfield. “It’s a good thing. A lot of work.”
Kathy Demshuk of Masury said she enjoys the social aspect of the dinner.
“We usually see somebody to talk to,” she said.
Mary Balestrino, who volunteered along with her son, Jacob Sloan, who is with Boy Scout Troop 62, called the dinner “wonderful for the community.”
“It’s like your church dinner but it’s not just your church,” she said.
“I think it’s fantastic that Brookfield has something like this,” said Lauren Sereday. “It doesn’t matter if they’re older, younger – everyone comes together.”
Sereday, who came with her mother-in-law, Roseann Sereday, said she appreciated the opportunity to volunteer.
“We try to give back to the community as much as we possibly can,” she said. “It’s just so important to know who your neighbors are.”
The dinner also collected nonperishable food for local food pantries, and uses some of its financial donations to support Santa’s Workshop, which was held Dec. 8 on the green and in Brookfield United Methodist Church, and the coloring contest at Brookfield Summer Fest.