Anthony Pedote was really grateful Thursday for a Dumpster.
You would be, too, if you were serving dinner to approximately 2,500 folks.
"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.