ELLSWORTH — Thanksgiving has outgrown the Emmaus Homeless Shelter, so the free community dinner will move up the street to the Riverside Café this year.
Emmaus Director Sister Lucille MacDonald said the poor economy and high unemployment rates have increased the number of people in need. She said the annual dinner usually serves between 50 and 60 people. Organizers are preparing for 150 this year.
“It’s open to everyone,” MacDonald said. “It’s open to the elderly that might be alone or a couple that’s alone or a single person. It’s not just for people who are down and out.”
She said people are not going to know if the person sitting next to them is homeless or just looking for company.
The dinner was also designed to thank the community for its continued support of the Emmaus Shelter, which provides shelter, food, clothing and other services to the needy.
MacDonald said Wednesday that the shelter had already received 80 requests for Thanksgiving food boxes, another service the shelter offers for the holiday.
She said asking for help can be emotionally wrenching for some people. Some tear up as they fill out applications for food boxes or holiday gifts. Others cry with gratitude after they have picked up items.
“We never know when we’re going to be put in the position to have to ask,” MacDonald said.
The shelter and Riverside Café are looking for volunteers to help with food preparation, entertainment and serving for the Thanksgiving dinner. Cooks will prepare their dishes at home and should notify the shelter what they will bring. One woman has already committed to bringing 35 pies.
The community dinner will be served buffet-style from noon to 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26, at the Riverside Café on Main Street in Ellsworth. Organizers hope to offer door prizes donated by local businesses.
Contact Sister Lucille at 667-3962 or Danielle Chatto at 610-1365 for more information or to volunteer.
For more community news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.