Three separate community dinners are being held over the coming days as part of ongoing efforts to ensure everyone has a chance to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal regardless of economic or familial circumstances.
Each event is being offered free of charge and with no expectations other than joining other community members for good food and fellowship.
Residents of Independence are holding their annual dinner tomorrow, Nov. 24, at the Owens Valley School Multi-Purpose Room, 202 S. Clay St.
Organizers are once again providing the turkey, dressing, gravy, drinks and table service, and those who want are welcome to bring a side dish or dessert for the feast set to begin at 2 p.m.
On Thanksgiving day itself, Nov. 28, both the Bishop VFW Post 8988 and Auxiliary and Lone Pine VFW Post 8036 and Auxiliary are opening their doors for their annual community dinners.
The Lone Pine gathering runs from 2-5 p.m. at the Post at 481 S. Main St. All are welcome to attend.
Bishop’s dinner will be offered from noon-3 p.m. at the Post at 484 Short St. All the Thanksgiving eats will be cooked up and otherwise prepared by the VFW and Auxiliary, including the turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, pies and whatever else the culinarily talented crew feels like whipping up for residents and visitors.
According to Auxiliary District President and local Auxiliary Secretary Sharon Brown, the dinner usually feeds about 300 guests – a boisterous mix of veterans and Auxiliary members, local families and lone individuals.
Giving these people somewhere to go on Thanksgiving has been the main goal of the dinner since its inception more than 20 years ago.
“It started as a group of Post and Auxiliary members and then it grew,” Brown said. “We wanted to help the community since the senior center doesn’t offer a Thanksgiving dinner and a lot of people are alone and just want to be part of the community.”
Brown said anyone and everyone is welcome to next Thursday’s dinner, and need only show up to be fed and enjoy the company.
Residents unable to make it down to the Post, such as the homebound or mothers with small children, can arrange for home delivery. Meals will be delivered from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, but residents are asked to call at least a day ahead if they can: the Post at (760) 873-5770 or Commander Earl McWilliams at (760) 873-3502.
The Lone Pine VFW and Auxiliary is also offering home delivery in the Lone Pine and Alabama Hills areas and ask that residents call (760) 876-4423.
Delivery will also be available in Independence and all the way to Aberdeen this Sunday thanks to the crew putting on the community dinner at the school.
“We don’t want anybody to be left out,” said Perry White, an Independence resident and one of the organizers.
It was that principle of inclusion on which the dinner was founded more than 10 years ago by a group of residents who also wanted a way to remove the stigma that comes with being “needy” during the holidays. Rather than watch their friends and neighbors sign up for food baskets from IMACA or the Salvation Army, these residents decided to throw a Thanksgiving party and invite everyone who wanted – not needed – to come.
“It respects their privacy and it respects their need,” White said, “and it’s for the WHOLE community.”
And the close-knit community turns out en masse, bringing what White described as a “tremendous” amount of side dishes and desserts to complement the turkey and other staples. But bringing something to the dinner is completely optional, White said. “Nobody should feel guilty for coming empty-handed.”
Their presence is enough, he said, explaining that it truly is an event where the atmosphere gets merrier the more there are in attendance. Diners have been known to come from Lone Pine and even Bishop, and the CalFire firefighters temporarily stationed in Independence usually stop by as well.
“It’s been a great event for Independence,” White said, “people just have a great, great time … it’s an event we thoroughly enjoy.”
White noted that the dinner has benefited from the financial support of residents and organizations, as well as dedicated volunteers.
“We’re trying to make sure everyone has the possibility of having a nice Thanksgiving dinner,” he said.
To arrange for home delivery, call (760) 878-2594.