A hive of activity is the only way to explain the kitchen for those making Thanksgiving dinner for their family.
Now imagine making that same dinner for 160. It is what the Penticton Soupateria has been doing for over 20 years. An army of 20 volunteers were buzzing around with the countdown of one hour before the doors opened to feed those who may not have had the opportunity to enjoy a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day.
“It is just a great way to give back to the community,” said Kris Rusk, the co-ordinator for the group of volunteers.
Rusk said she has been volunteering at the Penticton Soupateria for about 10 years. She lost her husband and found giving back on Sunday’s by volunteering at the Soupateria keeps her busy. On holiday’s like Thanksgiving it allows her to give her own way of thanks by providing something positive for those who may not have the easiest of lives.
The Penticton Soupateria was started in 1986 through an ecumenical group that saw a need for providing a hot meal for those in need. Operating in an old kitchen on the lower level of St. Saviour’s Anglican church the group struggled to survive. Generous contributions from the Rotary Club, the South Okanagan Community Foundation, the Vancouver Foundation and many individual donors helped renovate and create the new Soupateria building that stands on the corner of Martin and Orchard Avenue. Every since 2003, they have served a hot lunch to anyone in need for 365 days a year.
The volunteer list was filled for the Thanksgiving dinner but they still are searching for help for the Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day dinners. Volunteers come from all walks of life doing everything from shopping, preparation, serving, clean up and anything else that needs doing. The only requirement is volunteers must be 16 years of age or older. Groups have even sponsored lunches such as the Penticton JCI and Murray’s Pizza who teamed up on Sept. 19 to deliver 35 pizzas to the clientele of the Soupateria.
Attendance varies day-to-day for the clients. The goal is to serve anyone who needs a lunch just that, along with an opportunity to socialize with others and enjoy a welcoming environment where they feel respected.
A few of the clients were already sitting outside the Soupateria waiting to sit down for their Thanksgiving dinner on Monday morning. Turkey, ham, stuffing, vegetables, all the trimmings and dessert are waiting inside.
One man waiting said he has been coming for two years for the turkey lunch. While mostly wanting to keep to themselves the clients, who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to have such a dinner, summed it up in a few simple words.
“I’m thankful,” said one man.