Volunteers at a community Thanksgiving dinner in Seaside had a lot on their plate Thursday afternoon, but the meal had plenty of helpers — and food — to go around.
More than 40 volunteers at the Bob Chisholm Community Center served an estimated 400 meals at the dinner, Helping Hands Chief Executive Officer Alan Evans said.
“It’s amazing how many people want to come together and have this meal,” Evans said.
The annual dinner has grown from its inception 15 years ago, which was held at the Helping Hands office and included a small handful of volunteers and two to three cooked turkeys.
“We’d serve those and be done,” said Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn, one of the early volunteers. “It’s turned into a great community event.”
The event now includes sponsors such as the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District, Rotary Club of Seaside, Seaside Chamber of Commerce, South County Food Bank, Seaside Police Department and Seaside Fire Department. Evans estimates that the dinner costs at least $3,000.
Safeway cooks the turkeys, mashed potatoes and other traditional Thanksgiving fare. From there, volunteers set up tables, stripped the turkey meat and served the food.
“It’s been really easy this year,” said Rotary member Doug Barker. “Nobody has had to push too hard.”
Six of the volunteers hailed from Seaside Boy Scout Troop 642, where Schermerhorn serves as an assistant troop leader. The Scouts arrived just after 10 a.m.. By the end of the day, their confidence speaking to adult guests had grown, said Schermerhorn, who donned the troop’s twill uniform shirt.
“It’s great getting to see them get older and start chipping in on their own,” he said.
The variety of guests at the dinner, originally intended for homeless people, has also expanded.
“There’s a lot of lonely people in our community who have a home,” Evans said. “Everybody wants that day to be thankful, to eat some food.”
Gayle Dahlberg, 82, and her son Kive Dahlberg, 43, could attest to the food craving. Still wearing Minnesota Vikings jerseys after watching an NFL football game earlier in the day, the two munched on one of the hundreds of meals handed out.
Thursday’s dinner was the second the two have attended, and they said the food and chances to interact with friends were the two main draws.
Since Seaside United Methodist Church, where they attend services, donated to the dinner, they knew they would encounter friends.
Kive, who has Down Syndrome, is also a well-known volunteer in the Seaside area who works occasionally at the Chisholm Center.
“I like helping with friends,” Kive said, “good friends.”