Ryan Maucher of Fiddlehead Pizza chops celery and onions Monday in preparation for the Bluffton restaurant's Thanksgiving dinner for 200 people.(Photo: Jay Karr, Staff photo)
Community Thanksgiving dinners in Beaufort County
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Thousands of people from all walks of life -- rich and poor -- will break bread together this Thanksgiving across Beaufort County.
Before they do, hundreds of volunteers will spend hours baking, brining, chopping and peeling.
Workers began Monday morning preparing 100 turkeys for the 14th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks on Hilton Head Island.
In Bluffton, Fiddlehead Pizza cook Ryan Maucher, 26, chopped onions and stalk after stalk of celery to make stuffing for the restaurant's first Thanksgiving celebration.
In Beaufort, volunteers baked 48 pies and cakes for the Parish Church of St. Helena Island's 33rd annual community Thanksgiving dinner.
Combined, more than 500 volunteers around the county will serve nearly 3,000 meals to those searching for food, fellowship and fun this holiday.
"Many volunteers plan their vacations to coincide with the meal each year," said Allan LaCoe, co-chairman of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Hilton Head. "Others welcome the busy distraction after losing loved ones, and some bring their families to give back to the community."
More than 400 volunteers will serve 1,200 to 1,400 people at Hudson's, seating 250 tables every 45 minutes to an hour, LaCoe said.
"It's a labor of love," he said. "And (Hilton Head) is an area that is very generous. People give back. They feel blessed being here and want an avenue to give back, and that's part of what this is."
Volunteers with the Parish Church of St. Helena will deliver 80 meals to migrant workers in camps on St. Helena Island, in addition to "takeaway meals" for the elderly and homebound. They also expect to serve 1,200 people for a community dinner inside the parish hall.
Leftovers will be donated to Second Helpings, a regional nonprofit group that distributes food to the needy, and Operation Good Neighbor, a church outreach food-distribution program.
Stacey Kennedy-Macioszek, co-owner of Fiddlehead Pizza, hopes to begin a new tradition, joining with Bluffton Self Help to serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to 200 people who don't have a place to go this holiday.
"The restaurant has enjoyed a healthy rally in its first year of operation, and the entire team wanted to find a way to show our appreciation to the Bluffton community for supporting us," Kennedy said. "We also take for granted what we have in life, I think, all too often. This is about taking care of our own in the community, whether they can't afford a meal or don't have people to spend the holiday with."