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updated: 11/29/2013 1:33 PM

Thankful for community meals in Elgin, St. Charles

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  • Shane Bonner, 12, of Hoffman Estates, and his sister, Angelina, 10, make dessert plates for the Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the First United Methodist Church on Thanksgiving Day. Shane and Angelina made brownies and cupcakes themselves to bring to the event. Shane will celebrate his bar mitzvah next year and this was his way to give to the community in preparation.

       Shane Bonner, 12, of Hoffman Estates, and his sister, Angelina, 10, make dessert plates for the Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the First United Methodist Church on Thanksgiving Day. Shane and Angelina made brownies and cupcakes themselves to bring to the event. Shane will celebrate his bar mitzvah next year and this was his way to give to the community in preparation.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Diane Fraser of Elgin makes her way around tables chatting with diners at the Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner. This is her fourth year volunteering and she arrived two hours early to help prep for the 11 a.m. start.

       Diane Fraser of Elgin makes her way around tables chatting with diners at the Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner. This is her fourth year volunteering and she arrived two hours early to help prep for the 11 a.m. start.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Barb Roderick of Elgin waits in line Thursday as seven turkey dinners are packaged for her at the Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the First United Methodist Church. Roderick collected names from residents in her building at Burnham Manor (as well as a neighbor who lives down her block) who wanted a hot meal on the holiday and delivered directly to them. Every month she does something to give back to the community and this was her November pick. She even enlisted the help of her neighbor, Larry Funk, right, to help her deliver the meals.

       Barb Roderick of Elgin waits in line Thursday as seven turkey dinners are packaged for her at the Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the First United Methodist Church. Roderick collected names from residents in her building at Burnham Manor (as well as a neighbor who lives down her block) who wanted a hot meal on the holiday and delivered directly to them. Every month she does something to give back to the community and this was her November pick. She even enlisted the help of her neighbor, Larry Funk, right, to help her deliver the meals.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Teresa Alcala of Palatine feeds her son, Noah, 2, his turkey dinner at the Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the First United Methodist Church in Elgin. She attended the dinner with her sister and nephew and it was the first time for all of them.

       Teresa Alcala of Palatine feeds her son, Noah, 2, his turkey dinner at the Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the First United Methodist Church in Elgin. She attended the dinner with her sister and nephew and it was the first time for all of them.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

Anthony Pedote was really grateful Thursday for a Dumpster.

You would be, too, if you were serving dinner to approximately 2,500 folks.

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"So, I look at that as a great donation," Pedote said, thanking Waste Management for its contribution to the fifth annual Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

The bin was outside the kitchen of First United Methodist Church in Elgin Thursday, where Pedote and dinner founder Jeff Turner were running around making sure the free dinner ran smoothly.

"It is really a collaboration," Pedote said, reeling off person after person and business after business that donated supplies, time and expertise to the cause. The Grand Victoria Casino was especially key, as it roasted and deboned 1,500 pounds of turkey, several hundred pounds of which it donated.

Elgin's fire chief could be spied at the stove mashing potatoes, Gonnella Baking provided food storage before the event, and six restaurants were on standby to bring more food over if the dinner started to run out, Pedote said.

The duo aimed to have 2 percent of Elgin's population come to the dinner, and Pedote wants more people to come every year.

Grateful to serve

A dinner volunteer, Barb Roderick of Elgin, was grateful for more than the tasty food.

She loved being able to give back to the community, despite being disabled by chronic illness and living on a fixed income in subsidized senior housing. Roderick was part of a Salvation Army crew that delivered meals.

"It was just such a great feeling," Roderick said. "It was kind of rewarding to know I can help other people.

"Even though you might be on public aid, you can pay it forward. That's what the holidays are all about."

Thankful for company

Down at the annual Lazarus House dinner in St. Charles, Pat and Joan Cowen of Lily Lake enjoyed a potluck meal that served about 350 people.

"This is a great event. I've never seen so many people," Pat Cowen said.

He said they have attended the dinner for three years. This was its first time being held in the Joe K. Anderson Center at the Salvation Army Tri-Cities Corps' post on Seventh Avenue. In years past, it was held at the Lazarus House shelter.

"It's kind of good to get out with other people," Cowen said, as he pushed away half a slice of pie, too full to finish it.

Asked what was his favorite dish, Cowen mentioned the scalloped potatoes.

Lazarus House executive director Donna Bauer said the homemade dishes are one of the highlights of the dinner. Besides ham, turkey, stuffing and potato dishes, there were a variety of vegetable casseroles, mostaccioli, gelatin salads and more on the buffet tables.

"These sacred family recipes come to us!" Bauer said.

The community is invited to gather again, at Lazarus House's Christmas brunch Dec. 25 at the shelter, 214 Walnut St. For details, call (630) 587-2144 or visit the "events" page at lazarushouseonline.com.

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