Volunteers, food needed for Brattleboro's annual Thanksgiving dinner

Tuesday November 13, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- Organizers still are looking for donations and volunteers for this year's community Thanksgiving dinner.

The buffet-style dinner is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden on Main Street. The dinner is free for all, and it is once again expected to attract 500 or more people.

"It's a wonderful way for the community to get together," said Lindsay Cobb, a member of the organizing committee. "For me, it's kind of what Thanksgiving was originally."

This is the ninth annual dinner at the River Garden, 157 Main St. But organizers say the community-dinner tradition stretches back more than 35 years in Brattleboro to the former Common Ground restaurant.

The gathering includes vegan and gluten-free options as well as deliveries to shut-ins in the Brattleboro area. And putting it all together requires extensive planning.

"We usually start meeting in early to mid-September and meet once a week every week," Cobb said.

He adds that volunteers are the "backbone" of the effort, with some returning every year and/or driving in from out of state to contribute their time to the dinner.

The dinner committee still needs assistance for next week's event, and they've set up a list of contacts for those who want to help:

-- To help set up at the River Garden on Thanksgiving morning or to help clean up afterwards, call Katherine Barratt at 802-257-4220.

Cobb said that, at this point, more assistance is needed for cleanup than for setup.

-- To help prepare vegetables on Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Brattleboro Masonic Lodge at 196 Main St. -- and for other kitchen work -- call Ian Bigelow at 802-579-7903.

-- To help deliver meals to shut-ins, call Peter Wiles at 802-254-4687.

-- To donate food and produce, call Ray Branagan at 802-579-4649 or Mark Schultz at 603-336-0008.

-- To donate desserts, including vegan and gluten-free items, or to perform music during the dinner, call Cobb at 802-376-3792.

Cobb said it's best if volunteers make contact with organizers in advance rather than simply showing up the day of the dinner. Willing volunteers won't be turned away.

"If they call ahead of time, we're certainly going to find something for them to do," Cobb said.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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