NORRIDGEWOCK — The owner of a local diner who has been worried about having the resources to put on a Thanksgiving dinner for the community said the dinner will go on this year thanks to a donation from Summit Natural Gas of Maine.

“Two weeks ago the restaurant was empty and I was sitting here wondering how I could pull this together. It’s been a struggle,” said Laura Lorette, owner of What’s for Supper? restaurant.

Other Thanksgiving dinner organizers in Skowhegan and Augusta, too, are adapting to the changes in donations and resources.

In Norridgewock, the 35-seat diner has hosted a free dinner for the community for the last six years, but last year was difficult after an anonymous donor who had previous covered the entire cost of the meal was unable to help, said Lorette, 44.

In recent months, nearby construction of the natural gas pipeline by Summit has disrupted business and Lorette said she was unsure whether the restaurant could meet the cost of the dinner on its own this Thanksgiving.

The company has been working on laying pipe throughout the Kennebec Valley this fall and thought the dinner was a great project to sponsor because there has been so much construction in the area, including on Route 201A in front of the restaurant, said Julie Rowey, director of marketing for Summit.

“We thought it was a great thing to offer, especially seeing how we have inconvenienced them. We also have a lot of out-of-town workers that will be able to benefit from this dinner,” said Rowley.

The company is donating $1,500, which should cover the entire cost, she said. Lorette said she plans to feed about 150 people during three seatings on Thanksgiving day.

Construction, both by Summit and other projects, has been difficult for anyone trying to get in or through town this fall, said town manager Michelle Flewelling. Despite the disruption, she said the pipeline should benefit the area in the long-run.

“The scale of what they are doing is huge. It’s probably one of the largest economic development projects central Maine has seen since the construction of the interstate,” said Flewelling.

For Lorette, hosting the community dinner is a way of reaching out to those in need. This year, her son will be spending his first Thanksgiving deployed overseas. He is with the Army National Guard in Afghanistan and she said seeing the construction crews work through the holiday is a reminder of those in need.

“They’re away from home and putting in long hours. I know what that can be like,” she said.

Like Lorette, other organizers of community events say that without donations of time and resources it can be difficult to meet the needs of the community during the holidays.

“It’s an incredible challenge in this community and the surrounding towns. Folks are looking for help, especially around this time of year,” said Mark Tanner, minister at the Federated Church of Skowhegan. The church runs an annual food basket distribution program on Thanksgiving and in the past has offered sit-down dinners.

Hosting a dinner means trying to squeeze a lot of preparation into a small time frame, but the payoff is worth it, said Tanner.

“Being able to go to dinner and sit at a table, for many people that means they’re not alone. I think that’s the best part of a community dinner. On Thanksgiving, they’re not alone, they’re with others,” said Tanner.

In Augusta, the Green Street Methodist Church is working with Red Barn Restaurant after the church lost their dinner coordinator. The restaurant stepped in to help them organize and host the annual dinner. Because of an overwhelming response from volunteers, they’ve had to assign two-hour shifts rather than full-day shifts so that more people can have a chance to help out, said Alicia Barnes, business manager for Red Barn.

“Everybody wants to do something. So far it’s been really amazing,” said Barnes.

Rachel Ohm— 612-2368[email protected]