SKOWHEGAN — Area residents can choose from two free turkey dinners in Skowhegan next week — one at St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen on Monday and another at the Skowhegan Community Center on Thursday.

It’ll be double the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and pies, said Carolyn Bowring, kitchen manager at St. Anthony’s kitchen in the basement of the Notre Dame de Lourdes parish center next to the Catholic church on Water Street.

Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. the soup kitchen will serve its first public Thanksgiving dinner since she became a volunteer, Bowring said. The soup kitchen offered free Thanksgiving Day meals in the late 1990s, but the practice was suspended in recent years.

“We’ve got 13 turkeys, but this is the first time we’ve done this so we don’t know how many are coming or anything,” she said, cutting potatoes and chicken for Thursday night’s regular meal at the soup kitchen. “We’re going to try our best and hope it’s enough.”

Bowring said she is so excited and nervous about the dinner she can hardly sleep at night. She said the soup kitchen generally serves about 60 people three nights a week from 4:30 to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday for the Thanksgiving dinner, she said she expects 100 — possibly more — people for the meal.

“I woke up at 4 o’clock this morning yesterday and today. I can’t sleep I’m so nerved up about it,” she said. “Everybody’s so excited about it. It’s our first time. What I’m hoping is, we’re having ours on Monday — a nice big meal — and at the rec center on Thursday they’re having another Thanksgiving dinner, so people can have two Thanksgiving dinners this year. I love that.”

The Thanksgiving dinner at the recreation center, also called the community center, on Poulin Drive off West Front Street is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Bowring and church office manager Donna Hendricks said food for soup kitchen meals is mostly donated and all the kitchen work is on a volunteer basis. Food donations come from area supermarkets, food cupboards and from fundraisers by various community groups and businesses.

Adam and Rosa Rosario at The Pickup Cafe and CSA at the Somerset Grist Mill in Skowhegan said 10 percent of the proceeds from meals sold at the restaurant from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday will be donated to the soup kitchen to help with the Thanksgiving meal.

In addition, fresh local vegetables will be sold at the Community Supported Agriculture program at The Pick Up that evening for customers who want to donate to the meal.

Hendricks said the church runs the soup kitchen, which has been operating since the early 1970s, paying mostly for heat and hot water for about $5,000 a year, but the service to the community is immeasurable. People come to socialize, meet their friends and have a laugh and a good meal.

“It isn’t just for poor people,” Bowring said of the soup kitchen she runs with the help of her husband, Butch. “It’s also for people who live alone and don’t want to cook a meal for one person because it’s hard to cook for one person. You waste a lot of it. We want them to come down and feel like they’re in a restaurant; sit down and have coffee, snacks and have a meal. We have the music on, of course. I want everybody smiling.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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