Community celebrates Thanksgiving
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | November 23,2012
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Jarred Hayes delivers a hot plate of turkey at the Moose club on Thursday afternoon.
For many Vermonters, Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family and be thankful for the things they have and to give to those who have less.
That is what Robin and Melissa Crossman from Chittenden wanted to show their five kids when they volunteered at the annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Loyal Order of the Moose in Rutland on Thursday.
“Normally we go to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving, but this year we stayed home,” Melissa Crossman said.
“It’s amazing,” Robin Crossman said. “Everyone is so nice, very thankful.”
The Moose’s annual dinner, although scheduled to start at noon, started several minutes early with a small army of young volunteers handing out plates full of turkey, potatoes and corn. For dessert they gave out portions of apple and pumpkin pie.
“Everything was good,” said Sandy Fitzgerald of Rutland, who said she loved the kids helping out. “We didn’t really have a place to go (this year). My sister comes every year and we decided to come.”
The Moose club has been hosting the annual Thanksgiving dinner for more than 40 years, inviting anyone who does not have a place to spend the holiday — making them part of the Moose family for a couple of hours.
According to Michael Burke, former governor of the order, the dinner started a little crazily, but eventually it settled down to organized chaos. More than 400 people became family on Thursday.
“I look forward to this every year,” said Burke, who has served dinner with the order for more than 13 years. “It’s my way of giving back.”
“I have been blessed for a lot of different reasons and (this dinner) is my way to give back,” he added.
Burke said the day starts early — around 5 a.m. to set up the tables and make sure everything was in order — but the smiles on people’s faces when they are eating with friends and family makes it all worth it.
“A smile goes a long way,” he said. “At first we did not have a lot of volunteers, but now my phone does not stop ringing. I tell them to bring their kids.”
Burke said he is already planning for next year’s dinner.
“I love doing this. I love coordinating it,” he said. “I like doing this for people.”
The Fraternal Order of Eagles in Fair Haven also held its annual community Thanksgiving dinner with all the traditional fixings on the menu. They served more than 225 people.