SKOWHEGAN — Full boxes of food at the Federated Church in Skowhegan on Monday will mean full bellies this Thanksgiving for more than 175 families.

Volunteers of all ages were busy in the church’s Tewksbury Hall for much of the day Monday, rustling up turkeys and all the fixings for pickup on Tuesday.

Betsy Drum, president of the church’s women’s fellowship, was directing traffic inside the hall Monday, making sure every box got either a turkey or a gift certificate for a turkey.

“Everybody gets a turkey. We’re going to do at least 175 boxes for people. They signed up at the Town Office, and they will come over here tomorrow at 9 o’clock, and we’ll have a box of all kinds of food,” Drum said. “Everything’s there for the Thanksgiving dinner; all kinds of stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce.”

The church meal effort is among several others in central Maine aiming to feed people a Thanksgiving meal. Other events include a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, and a free Thanksgiving dinner the same day in Farmington from noon to 1 p.m. at Mt. Blue High School.

In Skowhegan, the church has been organizing the Thanksgiving dinner food drive ever since the Rev. Mark Tanner arrived as pastor 22 years ago. Drum said the money it takes to buy all the food comes from monthly donations at the church and from area businesses, which contribute every year from as far away as Waterville, including New Balance and Huhtamaki.

“It’s wonderful,” said longtime church member and holiday volunteer Cindy Manuel. “The community has just come forth.We couldn’t do it on our own.”

Eric “Snoopy” Butler, of Lexington Township, was on hand with five full boxes of food donated by the Somerset County chapter of the United Bikers of Maine.

“This year we raised 56 food baskets for Somerset County and dispersed them out across the county,” Butler said after unloading the boxes of food. “We dropped off five here for the Skowhegan area. We try to spread them out. We do the same thing for the toys.”

Butler said each box included a turkey, vegetables, a pie and all the makings of a good Thanksgiving Day meal.

“One thing our county has a signature for is we also add a half-gallon of milk and a box of cereal for the children in the morning,” Butler said. “We’ve worked all summer long with fundraisers, we had barbecues and we take 10 percent out of every ride that we do to put toward our food baskets for the year.”

Little helpers Grace Mayo and John Johnson said they were helping pack the food, too, and having a good time doing it.

“It’s fun,” Grace, 8, said. “We packed food.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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