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Volunteers serving free Thanksgiving meal in Lackawanna County

Volunteers in Dickson City are spending part of their Thanksgiving holiday serving a free meal.

DICKSON CITY, Pa. — Ken Hess knows what he's thankful for this holiday. He's a volunteer for a free Thanksgiving meal at the Eagle Hose Company in Dickson City, a meal he once was served by other volunteers.

"A couple years ago, I was kind of down on my luck, you know, in between jobs, and I needed a place to go on Thanksgiving," Hess recalled. "I was hungry. I had no food. And I'd seen a sign here. I'm from the community and never thought I would need it, and I decided to come have something to eat. Since then, my luck got better, and now I give back every year."

One of the people who likely served him that meal back then was Judie Senkow-Richards. She and her husband Brian have volunteered at this dinner for more than 20 years.

"I get emotional sometimes when I talk about that. Because there's a lot of elderly in our neck of the woods here, and they have nobody; the families are sometimes moved away. We have veterans who don't have anybody."

The man who used to organize the dinner stepped away this year, but Judie and Brian didn't want to see the tradition come to an end.

"We have people who come in even before we open up the doors, sit down and wait for us to start serving. And they're here until we start to clean sometimes," Judie said.

Last year, they served nearly 300 people.

"In a little over two hours last year, we were completely out of food," Brian said.

That food comes directly from the volunteers and from area businesses that donate, like Moon Tavern. The owners were up all night, baking peanut butter pies.

"We always like to give wherever we can. It's made from scratch – can't go wrong," said owner Eric Kropiewnicki.

FNCB Bank pitched in $500 and some of the Thanksgiving fixings, and Penn State Scranton is donating some manpower.

"I'm a retired Army medic; I got hurt in Afghanistan, and I'm just too young to stop volunteering," said student Jayson Zimmerman. "Myself and a bunch of other students at the college up here in Dunmore are going to be helping out for the day today and tomorrow, and we're just proud to be part of the effort."

The free dinner at Eagle Hose Company is open to anybody. Volunteers will start serving the food at noon; they will continue until 3 p.m. or when the food runs out.

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