Elks Lodge is looking for Thanksgiving volunteers to serve meals to seniors

Up to 300 meals will be prepared, cooked, served and delivered to residents of the community.

GARDNER — It’s become something of a Chair City tradition every time this year — the annual Elks Lodge Thanksgiving meal for seniors. And now the organizers are looking for a few good volunteers to keep the holiday tradition going.

The three-day event, held in partnership with the Gardner Senior Center, will see volunteers help prepare, cook, deliver and clean around 200 meals for local seniors.

“I know this Thanksgiving meal has been going on for decades at this point, and I know I’ve been overseeing it for four or five years, and it’s a great way for the Elks to partner with the Senior Center to provide a meal. for seniors in the Greater Gardner area,” said Tim Landry, Esquire at Elks Lodge.

Before the outbreak of the pandemic, meals were prepared and cooked by volunteers, and seniors would come to the Elks Club to sit down for their meals. With some seniors still reluctant to attend large gatherings, meal planners have added pickup and delivery service to the annual dinner.

“Bringing people together for the holidays is as much an American tradition as hot dogs and apple pie,” said Mike Ellis, director of the Gardner Council on Aging. “It brings people together for food, for camaraderie, for friendship, in the spirit of the holidays.”

It was especially important to reach out to citizens who, for whatever reason, might not be able to attend a family reunion or afford a holiday meal on their own, Ellis pointed out.

“It gives us a chance to come together as a community, to come together as a community, to break bread as a community, and to really celebrate all of those good things that the season means to us,” he said. he declares.

Work starts on Wednesday with meal preparation

On Wednesday, November 23, volunteers are needed at Elks Lodge to help prepare over 250 meals from approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We usually cook a dozen turkeys on Wednesday to get ready for the day, we also do all the usual vegetable prep and any other food prep we’ll need for Thursday,” Landry said.

Jobs to do on Thanksgiving morning

On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers will be asked to prepare and cook food, prepare the meals, which will then either be served to club diners or packaged for pick up or delivery to the senior center. Volunteers must work between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Ellis said several of the people who had already pre-registered for a Thanksgiving meal said they would be eating at the Elks Lodge.

“Right now we have about 250 registered, and that’s about two-thirds driving, one-third dining,” Ellis explained. “So we will have between 70 and 80 people in the room. Which is exceptional, because it’s almost pre-COVID levels.

In addition to serving meals in the dining hall, volunteers were needed to help pack meals for delivery and bring them outside for drive-in orders.

“It’s a very intense volunteer effort because there are a lot of moving parts, but we couldn’t do it with just the staff we have,” Ellis said. “So whether it’s Lions Club volunteers, Rotary Club volunteers, Elks volunteers, senior community volunteers, elected officials, they make it all possible.”

Big Friday cleanup can always use more volunteers

Friday, November 25 is the big clean-up day, according to organizers. The kitchen and all plates and utensils will need to be deep-cleaned, Landry said. He added that the day after Thanksgiving is usually the day he needs volunteers the most.

“We have to make sure all the dishes are clean and we’re deep cleaning the kitchen,” Landry explained. “There are a lot of meals to cook in such a short time and the Elks Lodge doesn’t have the biggest kitchen in the world. But this is the day when we need the most help.

Landry said he was grateful to anyone who was willing to give up a few hours of their vacation to help others enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal.

“Thursdays we usually have a ton of people wanting to help out, but my attitude is anybody who wants to help out and make someone else’s day a little bit better, I’ll never say no to that,” he said. he declares.

Anyone interested in volunteering is invited to Tim Landry at 508-331-2675 or Michael Ellis at 978-630-4067.

Contact Stephen Landry at [email protected]

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