Dave Luce, right, and Lisa Hall, with daughter Baileigh Hall, 2, peel potatoes at Pilgrim Church in Toledo in preparation for a Thanksgiving dinner that expects to feed upward of 400 people.
For some people, Thanksgiving dinner is too small when it’s just family. Like the Pilgrim stories of early Thanksgiving, it’s a community event.
Toledo’s Pilgrim Church, at 1375 Sylvania Ave., offers a traditional Thanksgiving dinner today for all, and it serves upward of 400 people.
“I’ll be coming in at 1 a.m. [today] to start preparing the food,” said Rick Sharp, the head cook for the feast.
He has been a member of the church for three years, and this is his first time in charge of dinner.
On Wednesday morning, he gathered with half a dozen volunteers to peel potatoes.
Volunteer Dave Luce was among those peeling.
“I was in the Marine Corps, I'm used to peeling potatoes,” he said. “This turns bad memories into good ones.”
Mr. Luce embodies the meaning of Thanksgiving, community, and family.
“My wife and I were here last year,” he said. “We were looking forward to coming here again ... She’s here in spirit.”
Mr. Luce’s wife, Deane, was the last living member of the Downey triplets, the first set of triplets born in Toledo Hospital in 1941. She died in that same hospital Nov. 9.
Mr. Luce said that following through with their Thanksgiving plans at Pilgrim Church is an honor.
Pastor Ellis Young, Pilgrim’s senior minister, says that at a time of “families coming together, we realize many don’t have that option. At this time the fellowship becomes very important. We forget just how blessed we are, and Thanksgiving involves giving out of gratitude for how God has blessed us."
The meal from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. is open to all. Volunteers are welcome, even those who decide on Thanksgiving Day to show up and help. For information, contact the church at 419-478-6012.
“I helped with this last year. The kitchen was full, so I helped out greeting,” Nancy Didion, one of the potato peelers, said. “I like to talk.”
This year she brought her granddaughter, Hannah Green.
“She wants to learn how to peel a potato,” Ms. Didion said.