WALLINGFORD – Believing no one in the town should have to go without a hot Thanksgiving dinner, volunteers prepared nearly 400 dinners for the 42nd annual Wallingford Community Dinner — God's Dinner.
“People love it,” said one of the organizers, Bettina Cristini. “It’s just such a happy place to be, and there is a need for it. That’s why we call it God's Dinner, because I do believe that God is telling us that that’s what we need to do - to be kind to people and help them out.”
Before the pandemic, the dinner was hosted inside the First Congregational Church, 23 S. Main St. Those that struggled to afford a Thanksgiving meal or those that didn’t have someone to spend the holidays with were welcome.
This year, after the dinner was canceled due to COVID-19 last year, the church opted for home deliveries and curbside pickups.
The operation is run completely by volunteers. The preparation started at 7 a.m. on Monday.
Every meal, Christini said, contained turkey, potato, gravy, vegetables, stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread or rolls, and dessert. A total of 40 turkeys were prepared.
But it’s not just food that people crave for the holidays, Cristini said.
“It’s just a dinner, but it means so much more to people,” Cristini said. “When people get their food, if they want some company, the volunteers will come in and sit with them, because they might be the only people this person might see sometimes."
The dinner was founded by Nancy Freyberg, who moved to North Carolina a few years ago, said Ray Heald, a volunteer of 30 years.
“We are trying to help the hungry and the homeless people to get some hot food, but Nancy’s main mission was so that people could come and not be alone on the holidays,” said Heald.
The food was donated by various big-chain supermarkets as well as local stores and bakeries, said Heald.
“People come here from all walks of life - people that are in need, people who would like to be a part of the community, people who like to volunteer - it’s just a great place to be during the holiday, and it feels great to help others,” said Scott Gray, who has been helping out with his wife for 15 years.
Volunteers will now be busy planning a Christmas Community Dinner. For more information call 203-514-8883 or visit the Community Dinner Facebook page. Home-delivered meals will be available.