A past in-person Scarborough Community Thanksgiving. Scarborough Community Thanksgiving


SCARBOROUGH — Every year, the Scarborough Community Thanksgiving takes place and welcomes all to a free holiday meal. This year will be the seventh annual iteration of the event. Those attending can look forward to a meal that includes roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy, dinner rolls, and apple and pumpkin pies.

Due to the pandemic, for the last two years the event was curbside takeout only. Now, it is finally back in person. With tablecloths, china, and a buffet, the meal is a true event. Volunteers welcome guests and help serve and clean up. Public safety supports the event. Can’t get transport? Scarborough community services helps organize transportation for town residents and can give rides. That said, you do not have to live in Scarborough to attend the event; the dinner is open to all.

Reservations are required, due to seating space. The reservation deadline is Nov. 16, and people can sign up online at the website, scarboroughcommunitythanksgiving.org. If people want to volunteer, they can also sign up on the same website.

The Scarborough Community Thanksgiving is a nonprofit organization. Kelly Murphy is a leader on the project. “We typically have the whole age range of people,” Murphy said. “Whether it’s babies there, there are whole families there, sometimes singles, adults, seniors. I mean, everyone under the sun comes, and for a variety of reasons, from people who just don’t want to cook, have at it, come and eat with us instead. Some people, you know, just don’t want to be alone or at the last minute their travel plans change, or weather might be a factor.”


It is fitting such a community event exists. “Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday,” said Audrey Keenan, a member of the nonprofit. “The food, the family gathering, the socializing. … I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Thanksgiving than to ensure that others will enjoy it as much as I do. … I love watching the community come together and enjoy great food and great company. I love knowing that those that might have been alone can come and get a hot meal and maybe make new friends. Anyone can attend, you do not need to be a Scarborough resident.”

The event will be at the Wentworth school on Thanksgiving Day, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. “In the past we’ve had table decorations from Wentworth students … like picture cards, or jokes, and those are all on the table,” Murphy said.

The event is sponsored by many businesses, organizations, and individuals in Scarborough. “We have a lot of community sponsors that we are excited are back for our seventh event,” Murphy said. “Some have been with us since the beginning, others we have just picked up this year. It’s fully donor funded. So, we don’t charge anything, but it’s fully donor funded from organizations and families and individuals and the community.”

The event started years ago, after a memorable Thanksgiving in Murphy’s household. “I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for the first time,” Murphy said. “And I was like, I’m a grownup. I can cook a Thanksgiving meal. We had 20 people coming over and we had just moved into a bigger house with a bigger kitchen. I’m like, we can do this.”

“Then there was a snowstorm the day before, and our power went out and came back 20 minutes before all our guests were due to arrive. But I had a gas stove, so I was able to keep cooking. But I had no water, ‘cos we have a well, and no power, so a full-on disaster. I dumped five gallons of filthy turkey brine all over the kitchen. It was a mess. So, I actually said to my husband, ‘If we had a place we could go right now on Thanksgiving, I would tell all the people to just meet us there, ‘cos this is a mess and I’m not sure we are going to get it done.’” The experience triggered the idea of a community Thanksgiving. Eventually, Murphy made it happen with Peter Esposito, the nutrition director for Scarborough schools.

“For me, this dinner represents connection within the community; an opportunity to come together and share a meal, in particular for members of the community that may otherwise be eating alone,” nonprofit member Buffy Whitaker said. “Our sole purpose is to provide Thanksgiving dinner at no cost to anyone who wishes to attend.  It is as simple — and wonderful — as that. The more the merrier!”

The Scarborough Community Thanksgiving Dinner will take place 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in Wentworth School. Reservations are required by Nov. 16, and are available on the website at https://www.scarboroughcommunitythanksgiving.org/

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