Wesley faithful preparing for annual community meal

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, November 24, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The kitchen at Wesley United Methodist Church in Niles was silent Tuesday afternoon, save for the hum of the room's refrigerator and freezer.
But come Wednesday night, the room will be a flurry of activity, filled with volunteers cooking turkey, dressing, and potatoes for the church's annual community Thanksgiving Day dinner.
The dinner will be served at noon on Thursday at the church, located at 302 Cedar St.
No one can can really give an exact number for how many years the church has had its annual Thanksgiving dinner, not even the event's original coordinators.
Pastor Emmett Kadwell recently spoke with Carol and Dick Noid, the couple who believe they held the first Thanksgiving dinner over 20 years ago.
The Noids wanted to hold a dinner for any church members, like themselves, who would be alone on Thanksgiving day.
At the first Thanksgiving dinner, Carol cooked the food at the church while Dick was sick at home with the flu. Only two church members came to the dinner.
A few years later, the dinner was expanded to include members of the community who didn't have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with.
The dinner has come a long way from its humble origins of serving two church members more than 20 years ago. Last year, 97 people showed up at the church for the dinner, said Ann Sidmore, who has been coordinating the dinner for over 12 years.
Sidmore is one of roughly 40 volunteers who help put on the dinner.
The number includes those who donate food, those who help transport people to and from the church, and those who help prepare and serve the meal, she said.
She said seven turkeys, ranging between 24 and 12 pounds each, will be prepared for the dinner, including homemade trimmings, such as dressing, fruit salad, pie and cranberry sauce.
This year, Sidmore expects to cook 40 pounds of potatoes and use 10 loaves of bread, nine pounds of onions and five or six bunches of celery for the dressing.
In addition to serving people who come to the dinner at the church, Sidmore said special carry-out meals have been made in the past for those who can't leave their homes.
Sidmore said people seem to enjoy coming to Wesley United on Thanksgiving because many of the guests tell the volunteers it's something they look forward to each year.
The dinner also fills a gap for those who prepare the food, Sidmore said.
This year, she and her husband won't have family coming into town, but Sidmore said the volunteers and those who come to the dinner year after year are like her other family.
Sidmore said the church puts the dinner on at very little costs thanks to all the donations made.
Although it is recommended for those who plan to attend to make reservations to give the volunteers a good idea of how much food to make, Sidmore said anyone is welcome to come to the dinner.
Kadwell said the dinner is a positive experience for both those who come to have dinner, as well as those who volunteer.