First Presbyterian Church brings Thanksgiving to seniors

Seniors enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner at First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich

Seniors enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner at First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich

Thanksgiving is a time to share with family, and for years, First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich has made an effort to share with Greenwich’s senior community.

This year marks the 17th annual Thanksgiving dinner for Greenwich senior citizens, which invites local elders to share a free meal in the church’s Fellowship Hall on the holiday in addition to providing meals to those who are homebound on the holiday. The Thanksgiving dinner for seniors was first organized by Renie Blair and First Presbyterian congregation members Brenda Avery and Diane Brown have taken charge as co-chairs of this year’s event.

“This Thanksgiving dinner is an important part of our community outreach program,” said the Rev. Erin M. Keys, associate minister. “Our congregation is committed to serving our neighbors, and this dinner invites people into our church home as guests. We are delighted to offer this event to the Greenwich community and to share in Thanksgiving together.”

Beginning 17 years ago with just 28 guests at the first dinner for seniors, the event has blossomed to include more than 100 senior citizens and just as many volunteers from the First Presbyterian community. Those volunteers are responsible for every part of the meal, from buying ingredients and planning the menu, to decorating the church and preparing the food.

Volunteers will arrive at the church as early as 7 a.m. on Thursday to get everything ready for the noon meal, which is scheduled to run until about 2 p.m. Members of the congregation who have family obligations of their own on Thanksgiving will join in on a cook-in the night before, helping with preliminary preparations and enjoying a bit of fellowship with their fellow church members.

Another 77 meals are to be delivered to homebound seniors by the church free of charge. Seniors who are without transportation are able to arrange rides through church volunteers as well, ensuring that everyone interested in participating is able to attend. Those meals are prepared fresh on Thanksgiving Day so those who cannot attend can still enjoy the same meal as those who can make it to the church. That requires a lot of hard work by everyone involved in the event, Ms. Avery said, but the congregation is eager to do it.

“We do have members of our congregation who own restaurants and they help, which is nice,” Ms. Avery said. “The great thing about the event is that we get to tap into what our members do for a living. If they don’t really cook they can still support. The kids, high schoolers, get to serve meals. There are a lot of different ways to volunteer so everyone can feel like they’ve supported in a way.”

Ms. Avery and Ms. Brown have been organizing the church volunteers and reaching out to the town’s senior living communities for potential attendees. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, they have worked to take RSVPs and schedule meal deliveries to make sure all needs are met. With the help of the Housing Authority, Social Services, Dial-A-Ride and the Senior Center, FPCG has been able to provide much appreciated support to those in need.

“I think we really want to make it fun, not just a nice thing to do for the community. We want to make it fun and joyful for everyone that’s participating,” Ms. Avery said.

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