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Sewickley church's Thanksgiving outreach doesn't end when the turkey is gone

| Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

The annual Thanksgiving Day feast at St. James Catholic Church in Sewickley began as a small gathering of elderly and single residents.

Now in its 10th year, the event has grown into a community and parish social.

Coordinator Rett King and an army of volunteers will dish out about 100 traditional turkey meals Nov. 23 to anyone who needs sustenance and fellowship.

“I have met many people throughout the years who have benefited from having this service available,” King says. “The sudden change in weather which threatened dangerous driving conditions and left a couple unprepared for a turkey dinner at home … the emergency surgery the week before Thanksgiving which nixed a couple's plan for dinner with family … I hear so many say that they just don't know where they would be if it weren't for our dinner. These are just a few of the reasons that I hope to be able to provide this ministry for many years to come.”

With donations from the church, Parkway West Rotary Club and a few generous individuals, organizers are able to shop for supplies on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, cook and setup Wednesday and add the finishing touches on Thanksgiving.

Dinner is served at 1 p.m., when everyone eats together as a family. In addition to leftovers, St. James offers continued support to its Turkey Day guests, even if they are not parishioners.

The church invites all attendees to return for weekend masses and events. Assistance with food, clothing and furniture is available through the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the church's Hands, Feet and Love Ministry can distribute Communion to shut-ins. Volunteers regularly take those in need to appointments or on grocery store runs.

“The impact the dinner has on the attendees and volunteers is amazing,” says the Rev. Thomas J. Burke, who has been pastor at St. James since 2012. “It has grown every year and even those who have families attend to enjoy each other's company.”

People can support the program by spreading the word about it, bringing a dessert or mailing a monetary donation payable to St. James Catholic Church to Rev. Thomas J. Burke, St. James Catholic Church, 200 Walnut St., Sewickley, PA 15143.

Kristy Locklin is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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