Annual Thanksgiving meal efforts continue, but with some changes

  • Partner agencies distrubuted these complete Thanksgiving meals in a box that were packaged by volunteers at the Thomas Memorial Golf & Country Club in Turners Falls on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Brian Browning and Chet Czernich hold complete Thanksgiving meals in a box, from turkey and fixings right down to the pie, at the Thomas Memorial Golf & Country Club in Turners Falls on Monday. Volunteers were able to fill 130 baskets, 82 more than the 48 boxes they filled last year. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/23/2020 4:42:46 PM

When Chet and Charlene Czernich sit down to their Thanksgiving meal with two of their children and five grandchildren in their Millers Falls home, they’ll think about others doing the same — some with their immediate families, some with only those who live with them and some alone.

Unlike in traditional years, because of the pandemic, local agencies are cooking dinners and distributing them curbside for those in need, but there are no sit-down dinners.

“I hope everyone has a little sunshine, especially those who are struggling,” Chet Czernich said.

Not only did he and his wife shop for themselves and their family this year, but they joined other volunteers to shop for enough food to feed 520 people. As president of the Thomas Memorial Golf & Country Club in Turners Falls, Czernich said last year was the first year the golf club collected food and monetary donations to feed the hungry throughout Franklin County for Thanksgiving. This year, volunteers were able to fill 130 baskets, 82 more than the 48 boxes they filled the first year.

“Unfortunately, we had to turn away requests this year,” he said. “It’s great that we have so much food, but I wish we could have helped more.”

Czernich said individuals, local businesses and others donated. A one-day raffle raised $595, and a tournament the golf club held at the end of September raised $960.

“We had 17 foursomes play,” he said. “Our ladies’ league gave us a nice donation, and one of our golfers came to us after he got his stimulus check and said he wanted to give us a good chunk of it.”

Czernich said people were generous, citing a local farmer who donated 275 pounds of onions. His wife and 19-year-old granddaughter put 2 pounds in each box.

Former Montague Police Chief and TRIAD member Ray Zukowski provided the squash and other farmers donated additional produce. Zukowski also picked up 130 turkeys on Monday. Czernich said he expects to spend about $1,794 of what the club raised on turkeys, which he said were 69 cents a pound.

“We received checks from local businesses that ranged from $100 to $200, and we left a container on the counter at the golf course and our members really stepped up. In the end, we raised $3,585.75,” he said. The campaign raised $1,365 last year.

Czernich, his wife and other volunteers gathered Monday morning at the Thomas Memorial Golf & Country Club to fill boxes that participating agencies are delivering this week to The Brick House Community Resource Center, Gill-Montague Regional School District, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office TRIAD and Our Lady of Peace Church.

Each box contains 16 to 20 pounds of food, including 5 pounds of potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, two packets of gravy, canned peas and corn, stuffing, rolls, sausage, celery, onions, squash, cream cheese and a pie. The average cost per box is $27.57 and it feeds four people.

Bobby C

Even after being hospitalized recently and undergoing neck surgery and rehabilitation, local disc jockey and long-time radio personality Robert “Bobby C” Campbell worked with others from his hospital bed to make sure people are fed this Thanksgiving.

“Because of a giving community made up of community members, local business owners, civic organizations like the Greenfield Knights of Columbus, Bernardston Kiwanis Club, Oak Ridge Detachment Marine Corps League, snowmobile clubs in Bernardston, Leyden and Gill and the TRIAD of Franklin County, we will feed more than 1,700 people Thanksgiving dinner,” Campbell said. “That’s more than 400 people more than we fed last year. This year, almost 120 families each received a 20-pound turkey, stuffing mix, potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, turkey gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce and homemade apple pie.”

Campbell said the effort was accomplished with the help of “grocery partners” — Foster’s Supermarket in Greenfield, Baker’s Country Store in Conway (Helen Baker baked the pies) and Market Basket in Athol, where they got the turkeys.

“This year we had community volunteers from ages 4 to 60 making a difference in our community, plus we were able to feed people at the annual Salvation Army community Thanksgiving dinner, and we will feed people during Living Waters Assembly of God’s annual Thanksgiving Day dinner and the Stone Soup Cafe annual Thanksgiving dinner, both on Thanksgiving Day, which are drive-thru due to COVID-19,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he couldn’t have done it without the village of donors and volunteers. The fundraiser started out small and has grown substantially, providing meals for 50 people the first year, 250 the second, 700 the third, 1,300 last year and 1,700 this year.

“That’s why we run this fundraiser every year, because there is such a need in our community,” he said.

Other area Thanksgiving meals and donations

Tim Morrissette of Kennametal Inc. in Greenfield delivered 23 18-pound turkeys to the United Way of Franklin County last week for distribution to area food programs. United Way, in turn, was able to get donations directly to the food pantries of the Franklin County Community Meals Program and Community Action’s Center for Self-Reliance. Turkeys were also shared with Stone Soup Cafe for holiday community meals.

The Living Waters Assembly of God Church in Greenfield is providing free Thanksgiving meals (drive-thru pickup) for “those who cannot have dinner with family or go to be with family” on Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the church at 450 Davis St. For more information, call Earl and Keila Cruz at 413-824-8051.

Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield is serving a pay-what-you-can Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday. Curbside pick-up will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. at 399 Main St. Volunteers will also deliver to Greenfield, Bernardston, Deerfield, Montague’s five villages, Shelburne and Buckland. Call 413-422-0020 or visit thestonesoupcafe.org to order a meal by Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Due to COVID-19, wait times may be longer. If you are uncomfortable standing, organizers advise ordering meals for delivery instead. Meals will be delivered between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.

The Thanksgiving meal costs $10 to make, so if guests can afford to pay for the meal, Stone Soup Cafe will accept the donation. Or, donate at bit.ly/new-network-good.

For more information about regularly scheduled meals through the holiday season or contacts for Thanksgiving meals, visit look4help.org or bit.ly/FCFoodResourcesList.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.



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