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Loaves and Fishes brings Thanksgiving to the hearts of many

Special to The PREVIEW

On Thursday, Nov. 21, guests at Loaves and Fishes Thursday free lunch will enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving feast, prepared and served by members of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.

Loaves and Fishes serves free lunches, open to the public, every Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Parish Hall on Lewis Street in downtown Pagosa Springs.

All of the meals are nutritious, delicious and filling, but Thanksgiving is truly special. The turkey and dressing, vegetables, salad and homemade dessert rivals most any meal served in homes on Thanksgiving Day.

It takes a large group working in tandem to cook for over 400 people and the folks at St. Patrick’s know the drill well. They serve eight meals a year for Loaves and Fishes. But, for the Thanksgiving meal, the volunteers have to multiply their efforts. About 15-20 people gather on Wednesday morning to cook 25 turkeys, slice vegetables and prepare ingredients. Fifty homemade pies, provided by parishioners, are delivered.

On Thursday, cooks and servers arrive at the Parish Hall early to heat the food, set the tables and make sure everything is in its place. Servers are assigned tables, desserts are cut and put on plates, coffee and tea are prepared, and the kitchen is made ready to efficiently and quickly dish up the meals. Silverware is wrapped in napkins and placed on the tables along with bread and condiments.

Before the guests arrive, the members of the church gather in a circle to ask God’s blessing on the meal and to give thanks. When the doors open, servers greet their guests with a smile and quick service. The kitchen staff goes into overdrive, keeping the hot food coming and ready to dish out. Dish washers have the sinks ready to receive dirty dishes and quickly wash and dry plates, silverware and cups.

“Preparing and serving the Thanksgiving meal is one of our favorite activities of the year,” said Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “There is a festive feeling among us all as we celebrate the bounty of God’s blessings. Guests are always delighted to visit with friends and joke with members of the church while enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The Bible tells us, ‘we are blessed to be a blessing,’ yet as we strive to bring blessings to others we receive blessings in return one hundred fold.”

Tax deductible donations to Loaves and Fishes help defer costs of meals and supplies and are always appreciated. If you wish to be a part of the Loaves and Fishes team of volunteers, call Mercy Korsgren at (970) 317-4767 or stop by the Parish Hall any Thursday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

This story was posted on November 14, 2013.