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Volunteers Make Free Peekskill Dinner Come Alive

PEEKSKILL, NY - While many city residents were watching the Macy's parade or getting ready for company Thursday morning, dozens of city residents came to the United Methodist Church on Main Street to help cook a special Thanksgiving dinner.

For almost 30 years the Peekskill Area Pastors Association has held a free Thanksgiving dinner for residents in need of hot fresh cooked holiday meal. Barry Prichep, who acted as one of the coordinator of the event this year, started as a volunteer 20 years ago. He said that volunteers were on hand preparing Wednesday night for the event.

"We started last night at 4 or  5 o'clock, the decorations had to be done first so we had a group of young high school students come in and put up the tablecloths and decorations," he said. Volunteers come from several area religious congregations, and some like Prichep simply volunteer by themselves.

"We have people in the kitchen, people in the dining area, we have people working with the pies, I have 20 people delivering meals, people were here early this morning carving and prepping the turkey," Prichep said. "We probably have about 100 volunteers when you put them all together."

As for those who come to eat, Prichep said they are a diverse group. "Some have the means but don't want to eat by themselves, for some this is the highlight of their holiday season because they have nowhere else to go," he said.

Not all the volunteers on hand were from the Peekskill area. Girls Scouts from Somers Troops 2849 and 2777 came all the way from the other side of the county to welcome diners with crackers, cheese and cider.

Troop leaders Joanne Lanzia, Missy Vece and Dineen DeVito said the girls, all between 11 and 15 years old, have been coming to the event for several years.

"We welcome the guests, we give them name tags, we give out hors d'oeuvre, we brought raffle prizes to give out and we also brought little goodie bags for children who come," said Lanzia. "We entertain them until them go in to have their meal. We're the pre-show."

Congresswoman Nan Hayworth also dropped by to help out volunteers before heading to a family dinner in New Jersey.

"It's important to do everything we can to show support for people in need here in Peekskill and also the people who have volunteered to help," Hayworth said. "It's very gratifying to see people getting together and enjoying the food and taking the opportunity to do something really good as we celebrate the blessings of being American."






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