, Salem, MA

November 19, 2012

Volunteers readying Thanksgiving meals

Will Broaddus
The Salem News

---- — Everyone on the North Shore will be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal this Thursday, thanks to several restaurants, churches and nonprofit groups that are serving dinners free of charge.

They include Ma Duke’s restaurant at 139 Maple St. in Danvers, where owner Debbie Marticio is counting her blessings after she was shut down for a time last month after getting behind on her electric bill. Donations from the community turned Marticio’s ovens back on, just in time for her to resume a tradition of serving free Thanksgiving dinners.

“I can’t believe the support,” Marticio said. “It’s been wonderful.”

That support included a spaghetti dinner last week at All Saints Episcopal Church, to help pay for the traditional dishes that Marticio will cook. Last year, she served about 1,000 people.

The prep work starts at 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, when she is joined in the kitchen by “four or five volunteers.” Service in the restaurant starts at 10 a.m.

She will also prepare 300 meals for home delivery by volunteer drivers.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Beverly will start serving a traditional turkey dinner at noon and already has 30 volunteers to prepare, cook and serve the dinner in three shifts.

“It’s a very uplifting day,” said Dena Lisle, who works in the church office at 4 Ocean St. “The volunteers get so much more out of it than they give.”

Lisle said they still need transportation for local seniors who want to attend the dinner and encourages volunteer drivers to call her at 978-922-3438.

“We served over 110 people last year, maybe 112,” Lisle said. “It is a lot of people that would otherwise be alone — elderly, students that can’t go home for the holidays and, of course, the homeless.”

In Ipswich, the John T. Heard Masonic Lodge will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal from noon to 3 p.m.

The lodge also serves free meals every Monday through Dinner Bells, a program that is coordinated with local churches, but the Thanksgiving meal is “100 percent the Masons,” said lodge member William Yanakakis.

The lodge is located at 70 Topsfield Road and served around 150 people last Thanksgiving, Yanakakis said.

In Salem, staffers at Tavern in the Square restaurant will donate their time to serve free Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 189 Washington St.

They hope to feed twice as many people as last year, when 225 people dined on turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and “all the extras,” said Mark Morris, co-owner of Tavern in the Square.

There are five Tavern in the Square restaurants around the region, and Morris wants his Salem location to serve as many diners as the one in Central Square, Cambridge, does.

“We’re reaching out to surrounding communities this year, to councils on aging,” he said. “The goal is to serve as many people as possible, and not leave anyone at home alone on the holidays.”

Thanksgiving dinner will be served at noon at Haven From Hunger, at 71 Wallis St. in Peabody, where they served 68 people last year, said Alyse Barbash, executive director of the nonprofit food pantry.  

The meals are prepared by Henry’s Market of Beverly, Barbash said, which also sends staff to serve them, with assistance from several volunteers.  

“Everybody is welcome,” Barbash said. “I don’t want anyone to be alone on Thanksgiving.”

In just a few weeks, Haven From Hunger will also be serving a Christmas dinner, she said, “with Santa, gifts and everything.”