WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Thanksgiving is known to be a time when families come together – and this Thanksgiving Thursday, many church communities did the same: gathering to prepare and serve those who could use a warm meal.
It's a Thanksgiving tradition – much like many of us have in our homes. At St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre, director Michael Cianciotta says after doing takeout-only last Thanksgiving – this time around, they're gathering once again.
"A lot of people came here to socialize; they're by themselves, they live alone," Cianciotta said. "They come here and get a nice meal; they're able to sit down with their friends, have a meal, and have conversations."
That's what many in need of a hot, homecooked meal did on Thursday: enjoying time with friends and delicious food, complete with sweets and treats.
"The desserts and stuff are amazing looking," volunteer Larell Marie Mele said.
Not to mention turkey and all the fixings.
"They know what Thanksgiving is about, giving back to the people, loved ones," Aurua Harrold of the Jessup-Peckville area said.
Harrold says he visits the kitchen often – to eat, as well as offer a helping hand. Because, as director Cianciotta says, people don't just go there for food one day out of the year.
"We do serve hot meals seven days a week," he said.
And that's why volunteers, like Mele, share their time.
"I only get to do it once a year on Thanksgiving, but I think this is like my 16th year," she said.
Mele had to miss last year due to the kitchen scaling back servers for safety purposes.
"I was sad, I was disappointed," Mele said. "It was strange to actually be at home in the morning and see the work that gets done at my house."
Mele says her husband does all the Thanksgiving cooking and tries to keep her far away from their kitchen. But she's much happier at this kitchen – helping her community.
"This year feels like we're back on the right track of getting to be normal again."
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