The Bethany Congregational Church reopened its doors after three years for its free Thanksgiving dinner.
Barbara Herrmann and her husband, Doug Herrmann, hosted this year’s Thanksgiving meal at 100 Main St. in East Rockaway. During the pandemic, this annual sit-down meal wasn’t held, but delivery and takeout meals were prepared. This year marked the 12th year the Church hosted this event.
Bethany Congregational hosted its inaugural Thanksgiving dinner for the community in 2010 and continued to do so every year since for those who need a hot meal. This year, the Church provided people with options.
Just like in 2019, local residents were invited to this meal.
Pastor Mark Lukens said in a Facebook post, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here just as you are.”
According to Herrmann, the energy this year at the event was very similar to pre-Covid. “This event was the same as 2019 and we continued our mission to make people feel very welcomed,” she said.
She added that the Church served meals on a regular plate with silverware as community members ate a “restaurant quality meal.”
The meal was hosted in the parish hall, a perfect for a space usually used for community and charitable events. “It was decorated beautifully,” Herrmann said. With festive tablecloths on several tables, community members took a seat and ate the food that was donated by various local groups.
“We had traditional Thanksgiving food,” Barbara Herrmann said. “Such as turkey, ham, gravy, national mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, string beans, rolls, and cornbread.”
Local businesses and community members helped make the event happen. Herrmann expressed her gratitude for Front Street Bakery in Rockville Centre for donating pies, cakes, and strudels.
“We have turkeys that was donated from the American Legion and from individuals that live in East Rockaway,” Herr-mann said.
The donations for this event were food or monetary donations. Herr-mann said that the financial donations took place not only in East Rockaway, but also in neighboring towns.
“We do have financial donations outside of Bethany,” Herrmann said. The Church raised money with the help of not only East Rockaway community members, but Oceanside residents as well. Every monetary donation went to purchasing the food for this meal.
With 40 people showing up in person as well as people picking-up food, the Church served around 120 to 130 meals this year. Bethany Church wasn’t the only collector of foods for thanksgiving as the Lynbrook Community Chest also helped give out food.
Former Community Chest Chairperson, Laura Ryder said “the community chest paid for and delivered 58 Thanksgiving meals with about 35 to 40 of them donated to the senior facility free of charge.”
Barbara and Doug were appreciative of the volunteers, as without them, this event wouldn’t happen.
All of the volunteers at the Bethany Congregational Church Thanksgiving meal were from Church this year.
“The volunteers are usually from Bethany or are East Rockaway residents,” Herrmann said. “Doug and I can never pull this off alone.”
Barbara Herrmann wanted to emphasize that the event was done to serve the community. “We do this for the community and to serve the community,” Herrmann said. “This event is to provide for the people that live in East Rockaway and Lynbrook.
“It’s really just a 100 percent event for the community to show them that we appreciate them and that Bethany looks after them.”