North Warren Central students Brooke French and Mattelyn Beadnell prepare food in November 2011 for their school’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. This year’s edition of the popular event is to be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday Nov. 23.
Excitement among students is brewing at North Warren Central School over an upcoming event that’s a treasured community tradition in northern Warren County, school officials said this week.
Students and school staffers are collaborating on preparations for the 12th annual North Warren Community Thanksgiving Dinner, to by held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday Nov. 23.
The meal is prepared and served at no charge to people of all ages in the region, particularly the towns of Horicon and Chester and other territory of the North Warren School District.
While the meal is particularly a joy to those who aren’t able to prepare a holiday dinner or have no one to share it with, the event is open to all in the North Warren communities.
The meal is a full dinner, from the turkey to pie and everything in between,” school principal secretary Shiela Ellsworth said this week.
The school’s faculty and staff donates the food — some of it homegrown in their gardens.
North Warren students help gather up the food and on the day of the event prepare the dishes alongside the school’s faculty and staff members. Students serve the meals to people seated on a rotating basis in the cafeteria.
Between 250 and 400 meals are served each year, Ellsworth said, noting that about 25 turkeys and 30-plus pies are prepared for the meal.
“This tradition was started by our principal Theresa Andrew to thank our communities for all the support they give our kids and staff all year round,” she said. “The event brings the community together — people really look forward to it.”
For those who unable to attend, meals are driven to their houses. Several dozen meals per year are delivered to home-bound individuals each year.
The meal includes stuffing, squash, potatoes, vegetable, — all the fixings, Ellsworth continued.
Nov. 12, Andrew explained why she launched the tradition a dozen years ago.
“The community gives us wonderful support whether it’s our fundraisers, support for our teams or our drama productions,” she said. “We wanted to give back to our community for all that they do for us all year long.”
She said that the dinner has grown remarkably through the years, because people enjoy the socializing among families and school staff.
“It’s become a huge thing in our school, and all the students participate in it — whether it’s peeling potatoes, making cole slaw or serving the meals — and they’re talking about it now,” she said. “It gives the kids a chance to do good for others.
In prior years, the event has included drawings and giveaways, a feature that’s likely to be repeated this year.
Andrew said that musical entertainment would be presented by students at various times during the event. No reservations are necessary.
Andrew added that the annual communal meal has strengthened community bonds through its tenure.
“The experience is very rewarding and positive — it brings us all together,” she said. “It’s become a great, great thing.”
Ellsworth added a similar thought.
“It’s a wonderful way to start out the holiday season,” she said.