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Happy Thanksgiving guaranteed

Whidbey Islanders are taking care of their own this Thanksgiving, making sure everyone has a place to go where they can find good food and good company on the holiday.

Dinners will be held tomorrow at Coupeville Recreation Hall and Oak Harbor Elks Lodge. Both offer an amiable setting for the feast, and payment is optional. If you can’t afford it, come anyway.

In Oak Harbor, volunteers are organizing to feed hundreds of people for their second annual Community Harvest Celebration. Service groups, clubs and business people have all chipped in goods or labor to handle the crowd.

“This is for the community, by the community,” said Keith Bartlett, one of the organizers. “Things are really coming together very, very good.”

Stop by the Elks Lodge from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. and be treated to your choice of oven roasted or deep fried turkey, ham and all the trimmings.

“I’m getting everybody ready to cook,” Bartlett said. “Probably 50 people will be cooking and serving.” Guests will be welcomed by members of the Elks Lodge and Whidbey Cruzers car club.

“We don’t want people sitting home alone. Come on down and join us,” Bartlett said.

If you can’t make it to the site, the Cruzers will deliver. That goes for shut-ins and people who will be working Thanksgiving, such as emergency services personnel. “If they can’t get out we deliver,” Bartlett said.

No transportation? No problem. “We’ll pick you up and take you home,” Bartlett said.

Diners will be greeted by a fancy spread. “It’s really neat, like going to a first class restaurant,” Bartlett said. Besides the holiday basics, there will be ambrosia, chips and dips, and desserts.

Donations will be accepted at the door, and will be used for scholarships. But no one will ask for money. “If they can’t afford it, who cares?” Bartlett said.

Potluck in Coupeville

Coupeville is taking the community potluck approach for its fourth annual community Thanksgiving dinner.

Kathy Griggs, one of the founders of the event, said the first dinner attracted about 100 diners, followed in ensuing years by 130 and 175. “I don’t know what we’ll get this year,” she said. But they’ll be ready.

Volunteers bake turkeys and hams at home and bring them to the Recreation Hall, where they will be served from noon to 2:30 p.m.

“It’s like a community potluck,” Griggs said. “People start dropping things off and we’re overwhelmed.” They’re better organized now than the first year, she said, laughing at the memory of of “29 pies and one vegetable.”

She guarantees a wide variety of pies, vegetables and Thanksgiving basics this year. “We supplement what people don’t bring, and leftovers go home with everybody or to the food bank,” she said.

The atmosphere at the Coupeville dinner is congenial, and all types of people get together for the feast. “People are talking to people you wouldn’t expect them to talk to,” she said. “We have families that could afford to eat at a five star restaurant but prefer to be part of the community.”

Nobody in Coupeville can say they have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.

Help House

helps many

Every Thanksgiving, Oak Harbor’s Help House makes sure that every who wants to have a dinner at home can afford it. Friday, volunteers were unloading box after box of frozen turkeys to be given to the needy.

“We’re buying 600 turkeys,” said Bill Nance, executive director. “On Friday we’ll be tossing turkeys all day.” About 550 people had signed up for help as of last Wednesday, and Nance anticipated more would be coming in.

Donations to Help House allow them the purchase all the basics for a good Thanksgiving dinner, such as stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin, yams and pie crust.

Help House has plenty of food for for Thanksgiving, and is also taking orders and matching up donors with needy people for Christmas. Nance said more community assistance would be welcome for the Christmas effort. Overall, donations are down about 10 percent, which Nance attributes to the after effects of the terrorist attacks. “Monetary donations have been really down since 9-11,” he said. Checks may be sent to North Whidbey Help House, 1091 SE Hathaway, Oak Harbor, WA 98277.

Thanksgiving dining guide

Oak Harbor: Community Harvest Celebration, Thursday, Nov. 28, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Elks Lodge, 155 NE Ernst. If unable to attend, call 675-1321 and Thanksgiving dinner will be delivered to your residence. Call the same number if you need transportation to the dinner.

Coupeville: Community Thanksgiving Dinner, Nov. 28, noon to 2:30 p.m., Recreation Hall, corner of Coveland and Alexander streets. To donate or for information call 678-6000.

Help House: Anyone who needs food for Thanksgiving dinner should contact North Whidbey Help House. Call 675-0681 or stop by at 1091 SE Hathaway, Oak Harbor. To make a donation for the holidays, send a check to the same address.

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