While many families enjoy a hot meal in their homes and family tables, others enjoy a hot meal through various Thanksgiving events and open meals. At 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, doors opened to the Sacred Heart parish center to offer free meals to the residents of the city.
Siblings Ben Papaleo and Concetta Cracolici, who planned the event, are joined by family members, friends and other volunteers to serve and deliver meals to the community members. This year marks the fourth annual Thanksgiving Day meal day for the parish. Meals, all homemade, included turkey and other traditional Thanksgiving Day foods.
As you enter the center’s basement, you are greeted by sisters Kristen and Stacey Swinkunas, who help with any questions about the event. “I’m very grateful that the Papaleo’s and the Cracolici’s are able to do this. It’s nice to see the community come out and actually enjoy a meal together,” Kristen said. “I can honestly say seeing everyone coming through the door and knowing that there is a hot meal here for them, it makes me happy to see the smiles on their faces.” Once greeted, they offer masks and hand sanitizer or towelettes. They also ask how many meals you may need, hand a card to you and direct you over to the food line. “Kindness spreads a long way,” Stacey said. “Continue to support the community as much as possible if you can.”
As you make your way over to the food line, you are greeted by other volunteers and guests of the event as you get your food. Once collected, you either can walk out the door with your meal or take a seat and enjoy it. Once you finish your food, there is coffee and desserts available on a side table.
For Papaleo and Cracolici, they each express their gratitude for the continued support from the community.
“Grateful that we can be able to provide to the community something that is really in need,” Cracolici said.
“We were going back and forth contemplating whether we should do it (the meal day) and then we realized there was still such a need for it.” With the turnout of this year’s event, the siblings look forward to next year with even more participants. “The more people the merrier,” Papaleo said. According to Papaleo, they are expected to serve close to 300 people during the course of the event. 150 meals will be delivered during the day as well.
Off to the side, Michael Lee sat on a chair enjoying his Thanksgiving meal.
“It hurts that people don’t have enough,” Lee said. There’s a lot to go around,” Lee said. “Thanksgiving is every day.”