Roll Patrol

Gabriel Clark took his job as distributor of rolls at the Thanksgiving Day community meal Thursday very seriously. Gabriel was one of about 70 volunteers who turned out to help serve the meal at St. Francis Borgia Grade School cafeteria. In all, 481 meals were served, including carryouts. A traditional turkey dinner with all of the trimmings was offered.  Missourian Photo.

A record 481 meals were served Thursday at a free community dinner organized by volunteers.

“It was a great day,” said Judy Droege, who helps run the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner open to families and individuals spending the holiday alone, away from family or unable to prepare a meal.

“We were very busy and we saw lots and lots of smiling faces, which is wonderful,” she added.

A traditional turkey dinner with all of the trimmings was served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Francis Borgia Grade School cafeteria in Washington.

A team of volunteers prepares and serves the meal each year. The kitchen crew was headed by Denny Holtmeyer and Mary Obenauer.

Droege said there were over 70 volunteers, from young to old, working in the kitchen, along the serving line and in the dining area.

“It takes a lot of people to make this happen,” she said. “We have individuals and families who come out to help, as well as some high school kids working to get their Christian service hours and others who just show up year after year.”

Droege said St. Francis Borgia Grade School provides its cafeteria for the meal every year for free.

“We can’t say thank you enough to them for that,” she said.

There is no cost to attend and people are invited to stay and visit after they eat — and Droege said many of the guests did just that.

“We had some here waiting to get in before the doors opened and they stayed until we closed up,” she said. “We like to see that because that’s what it’s all about, providing fellowship.”

Droege said longtime volunteers believe this was the 23rd year for the dinner.

“And this year was our biggest ever, probably because of the economy, but you never know,” she said.

Of the 481 meals served, 182 were carryouts. Last year approximately 450 dinners were served.

“We did receive a lot of monetary donations to help with the costs and we really appreciate that,” Droege said.

The leftover food was donated to the Harvest Table.