Thousands of people struggle to make ends meet during the holidays. But this season, North Fork residents can rest assured they’ll have a homemade Thanksgiving dinner regardless of their financial situation.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, all community members are welcome to dine at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greenport during its annual Thanksgiving Day program, hosted by Reel For God Outreach Ministries.
“When they walk in, we want them to feel like they’re in a restaurant,” said the Rev. Jimmie Smiley of Reel For God Outreach Ministries. “Everything is decorated with a festive look. We have pumpkins on the tables, we have tablecloths in brown and cream. It’s like a whole production.”
The program served over 450 dinners last year and caters not just to the homeless, he said, but is open to everyone, and focuses on community.
“I’m trying to bring the community together and say, ‘This love that we bring — we can bring this all year long, it doesn’t just have to be for Thanksgiving,’ ” the reverend said.
In the days leading up to the holiday, volunteers will prepare for Thursday’s dinner. Each day, they’ll attend to a different element of the feast. Monday is devoted to dishes that need to be baked, Tuesday is for smoking meats and Wednesday is for desserts, including a special pre-Thanksgiving celebration called “Dessert before Dinner.”
For Wednesday, D’Latte Cafe in Greenport contributes desserts, the Rev. Smiley said, and Aldo’s of Greenport brings brewed coffee.
“If someone’s prepping for dinner at their home, we want them to stop cooking and come in for dessert,” he said. “It’s a night that we share love in the community.”
The Rev. Smiley said the church collaborates with other local businesses throughout the week. Since 2013, for example, Emilio’s, Lucharitos and Sterlington Deli — all in Greenport — have contributed food for the program’s youth volunteers.
The church is also working with the Southold and Greenport fire departments this year to deliver meals to locals who are unable to attend Thursday’s feast, he said.
“We have people ready to go out and deliver food on Thanksgiving Day,” the reverend said. “Anyone that’s shut-in, they can call us and we’ll deliver anywhere, from Greenport to Riverhead.”
The Rev. Smiley said folks in need should call him directly to request food and their name will be put on the list. About 125 meals were delivered last year, he said, and he hopes to give more this year.
“We when come together — everyone, on their own accord — we make a difference,” he said. “That’s my main purpose, always, that we make a difference in this community and show love.”
Anyone interested in donating food or money, or volunteering, can contact the Rev. Smiley at 631-764-1805.
Photo caption: Volunteers serve Thanksgiving dinners in 2016 at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. (Courtesy photo)