While a Cambridge store was hosting its first public Thanksgiving dinner for a thankful crowd on Thursday, an Oakland crew of volunteers was serving up the 26th edition of the Messalonskee Thanksgiving Community Meal to its usual throng.

At the Cambridge General Store there were fresh cut Christmas trees for sale, live bluegrass music and lots of hot, homemade food Thursday.

“Everything was good,” said 82-year-old Gordon Hayward after finishing a plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, rutabaga, stuffing and homemade bread. “They gave me so much food I even had some left to take home to my dog.”

Hayward, who lives in Harmony, was one of about 30 people who had gathered at the small general store by around 2 p.m. Thursday for a free Thanksgiving meal. The community dinner, which was a first for the store under new management this year, was one of several in the region to serve free meals to the needy, people without family around or those who were simply looking to connect with the community on Thanksgiving Day.

Tammy Thomas and her husband, Lou, who recently took over the management of the store, said they hope to make the dinner an annual event. The food was free and was prepared by volunteers, but the store was accepting donations for Christmas presents for local children.

“It’s a retirement area, and a lot of people may have family who get together the weekend before or weekend after Thanksgiving but not necessarily on Thanksgiving,” Thomas said. “So we decided to do this for the community, people who don’t have families or people who don’t have families here on Thanksgiving Day.”


One nearby table of friends decided to come to the dinner because it was a convenient meeting spot between the different towns they live in.

“It’s fantastic,” said Dave Pearson, 67, of Dexter. “We’re just thrilled with it.”

“It can’t be beat,” agreed Grace Lommel, 56, of Harmony.

In Oakland, people at the Messalonskee Thanksgiving Community Meal agreed that the food and camaraderie at the community meal were unbeatable.

The dinner, which is in its 26th year and is hosted by Bud and Josephine King and their family, serves about 1,000 people annually.

“It’s been busy all day,” said Mike Marston, one of the organizers of the meal. “It’s wonderful. It’s nice to see volunteers coming. Some have been here for 20 years and for some it’s their first day. We’re just happy that they decide to share the holiday with us.”


Shirley Watson, 64, of Sidney, was one first-time volunteer at Thursday’s dinner. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for several years,” Watson said. “The people are so thankful for everything. It’s just been wonderful.”

Eunice Spooner, also of Sidney, was enjoying a piece of cherry pie nearby and said that she too enjoys coming to the dinner. This year she has two foreign exchange students living with her and brought them not just to experience an American Thanksgiving, but to see the work put in by the volunteers, she said.

“I woke up and said to them, ‘Happy American Thanksgiving,'” Spooner said. “I wanted them to experience what can be done for others, so I thought they would learn something from coming here.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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