From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 35 - November 22, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

St. Andrew’s Hosts New Thanksgiving Tradition
Pinedale churches invite community in for turkey dinner
by Joy Ufford

The holidays are a time for caring, and Thanksgiving is traditionally a fest day for family and friends.

But if you’re new in town and don’t know anyone, can’t cook (or don’t want to), are just passing through or just want to be around caring people, St.Andrew’s in the Pines Episcopal will have its doors open to serve up a real feast for anyone who would like to comein.

A new tradition

The free community dinner is set to be the start of an annual Thanksgiving Day tradition with St. Andrew’s, the Community United Church of Christ and Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church of Pinedale joining together to extend the holiday invitation.

Many years ago, Coralee Petersen was a newly divorced mom whose young children were at their father’s for Thanksgiving. Although she had been in Pinedale a year and a half and knew quite a number of people, not many of them realized her situation.

She decided to attend a community Thanksgiving dinner at Our Lady of Peace that day.

“I know there are people I could have called,” she said. “But when you’re in that position you don’t really feel like doing that... I thought it was a really nice thing to be able to do at that point in my life.” A month or so ago, when she and fellow St. Andrew’s congregation members were meeting, they started thinking about how there has no place in years where people who are lonely, alone, tired or even thankful (and wanting to share that feeling) can go on Thanksgiving Day.

“We had an obligation to try and decide what the needs were – and to go ahead and do it,” she said. The result is the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner with the three churches taking part, along with other volunteers who aren’t necessarily church members anywhere. They will be peeling potatoes, whisking gravy, decorating tables in the St. Andrews’ basement, and serving up roast turkey breast and all the trimmings (including homemade pies and rolls) in hopes of sharing the day with others who want to come in, between noon and 2 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s been a long time since any church has done that,” Peterson said. “I think it’s a lonely day for some people.”

It’s also a day to share and give thanks, and Petersen and her fellow volunteers are already thankful for a “very generous donation” for the majority of the meal, along with donations and discounts from local businesses.

Anyone and everyone is invited to come to dinner, she said, whether rich or poor, wearing sneakers or a suit, family-rich or not, longtime or part-time local or out-of-towner.

“There has been this perception of an insular... division between the older established part of the community” and newcomers,” Petersen said, adding that is not the case.

“The people who have lived here a long time and made this their home aren’t insensitive to the needs of others,” she said. “They just don’t know what to do.”

Once people are presented with a potential way to help others, the response is gratifying.

“That has really been a pleasure for me to see,” she said of the community and churches’ involvement. The group plans to serve about 120 dinners but only because they had to pick a number to start with, Petersen said. There’s a “backup plan” if more people show up, though, so all will be made welcome and to feel like part of the community.

“I’m not concerned about numbers,” she said.

“Let the good Lord bring those who need to be there.”

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