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Holidays see free dinners, food bags

Thousands of Mother Lode residents are grateful for area food banks and community meals this Thanksgiving. 

The Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency Food Bank in Jamestown distributed about 4,000 bags of food to 1,400 families in Tuolumne County on Friday.

“We will have nothing left by the end of the day. All of our holiday food will be gone,” said food bank Director Lee Kimball. “We really need people to contribute so we can do this again at Christmas.”

Kimball said donations of cranberry, stuffing and pie fillings are especially needed. 

Jeannie Hayward, director of the Resource Connection Food Bank in San Andreas, said in addition to extra holiday food being distributed in this month’s food bags, there will be community meals held from Valley Springs to West Point and Murphys to Arnold. 

“Actually, more people will be served this year than ever before,” she said.

In Tuolumne County, meals will be held from Sonora and Jamestown to Tuolumne and Groveland.

Below are free community Thanksgiving meals listed in chronological order:

• Mother Lode Christian School in Tuolumne and Chapel in the Pines Church in Twain Harte will host a free community Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Tuolumne Veterans Memorial Hall. 

“We served about 250 meals last year and delivered another 100,” said Kerry Semsen, who helps organize the meal with her husband, Walter. 

Home delivery is available in the Tuolumne area. For more information or to help with donations, call Semsen at 352-1537.

• Thanksgiving With Friends, a free turkey dinner with side dishes and dessert, will be served at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday inside the Heart Rock Cafe at 1 S. Washington St. in downtown Sonora. 

“We typically serve upwards of 600 people,” said Jeri Kappl, an employee at Christian Heights Church. “It’s greatly enjoyed by all the participants — both the workers and the recipients.”

Volunteers and donations are welcome. Anyone needing a meal delivered should call the church at 532-7305. 

“It’s truly a community event, and that was our goal,” Kappl said. 

• The Jamestown Youth Center and Sierra Bible Church will sponsor a free community Thanksgiving dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Jamestown Community Hall on Main Street. 

Volunteers supply and serve a full turkey dinner with dessert. 

For more information, call 984-4188.

• The 26th annual free Thanksgiving feast will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Groveland Community Hall on Main Street. Turkey, ham, side dishes and dessert will be served to anyone who wishes to attend. 

“There’s nothing that keeps anyone out,” said Ruben Bacci, who has been volunteering at the dinner for the past 23 years. “We’ve even had people from other countries who don’t even understand what Thanksgiving is.” 

For more information or to donate, call 962-0824 or 962-5912.

“It’s become quite a tradition,” said volunteer Tony Flores. “It’s about community spirit and sitting down and eating with your neighbors.”

• A free Thanksgiving meal will be served at Murphys Covenant Church, 34 Jones St., from noon until 3 p.m. Thursday. The inaugural event is a partnership between area churches and community groups. 

“We’re trying to reach those people who don’t get to go anywhere or do anything on Thanksgiving,” said organizer Paul Kezis. 

“An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” movie will be shown at noon and 1:30 p.m. 

For more information or to make reservations, call 840-8168.

• Ebbetts Pass Moose Lodge will serve its annual Thanksgiving dinner from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday at 1965 Blagen Road in Arnold. 

A traditional homemade Thanksgiving meal will be served.

“If you don’t have a family, we’ll give you one for an hour or two,” said organizer Josh Heller, who plans to cook about 30 turkeys for the meal. 

Last year, 542 people were served in addition to 85 home deliveries. Volunteers deliver meals from Murphys to Dorrington. 

For more information or to request a delivery, call 795-5623.

• Sonora United Methodist Church will serve its annual free Thanksgiving dinner from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday at 90 Yaney Ave. The meal is open to anyone who wishes to attend. For more information, call 532-4850.

• The Sonora Alano Club will serve its annual free Thanksgiving dinner from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday at 19421 Village Drive in East Sonora. 

Everyone is welcome. For more information, call 532-9838.

“Right now we have four turkeys, two hams and lots of donations, but we could always use more,” manager Susie Tinsley said Friday. 


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