Thanksgiving Meal For 200, But Will The Needy Come?

November 21, 1990|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

While local social workers worry about having too many hungry people and not enough food this Thanksgiving, one volunteer has plenty of food and not enough hungry people.

Linda Greenberg of Crownsville, a well-known advocate for the homeless, plans to serve enough turkey and trimmings for 200 people from 1 to 4 p.m.

Thursday at Camp Letts in Mayo. As of Wednesday, with 100 people scheduled to attend, Greenberg was still spreading the word about her first-ever Thanksgiving dinner for the needy.

"I'm constantly on the phone," said Greenberg, an energetic redhead and the mother of two teen-age sons. "I'll be on the phone from now till I go to sleep. I don't even have time to make my kids toast."

The Thanksgiving dinner is available to anyone who needs help, she said.

"I want all kinds of poor people who can't afford a meal to come -- people in low-cost housing, senior citizens, handicapped patients, AIDS patients."

Best known locally for originating the annual "Walk for Life" walk-a-thon to benefit the American Heart Association, Greenberg has been working on the Thanksgiving project for months, recruiting several hundred volunteers -- everyone from Brownies to senior citizens -- to make the dinner and serve it.

One Brownie troop is baking 100 cupcakes. The Arundel High School Key Club is donating turkeys. Two women are making enough potato salad and macaroni salad for 200.

Greenberg's menu includes the requisite turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, plus potato and macaroni salads, beef, ham, bagels, rolls, green beans, corn, rice and beans, cupcakes, pies, juice, soda and milk.

Greenberg also has arranged for Annapolis disc jockey Laurel Tarabour to provide music for a "party atmosphere." And there will be gifts for all the children, donated by local churches and businesses: boxes of disposable diapers for the infants, board games for older children, stuffed toys for younger kids.

So far, Greenberg said, those scheduled to attend the dinner include 60 people from a homeless shelter in Baltimore city and 40 of 200 people referred by Holiday Sharing, a countywide food and gift program co-sponsored by the county Department of Social Services and the Medical Auxiliary of Anne Arundel County.

Christine Poulsen, volunteer coordinator for the Department of Social Services, said this year's demand for Thanksgiving donations has outstripped what Holiday Sharing can provide. It's wonderful, she said, to be able to refer those people to Greenberg.

However, even Greenberg admits her choice of location may have cut down on the number of needy families who will attend. Camp Letts is situated on the Mayo peninsula, off Route 214 in South County -- too far and out of the way for many poor people who don't have their own transportation.

The people from the Baltimore shelter are being bused in, Greenberg said, and Helping Hand, a non-profit, Annapolis-based group that provides shelter and food for the homeless, will use two vans donated by the Asbury Church in Annapolis to transport others beginning at noon.

Other needy citizens may have trouble getting to the dinner.

"Obviously, homeless people don't have cars," Greenberg said.

"The people who can make it will love it there. If we have extra food, we're giving it to the families to take home. Nothing will be thrown out."

Greenberg's Thanksgiving project is unique in Anne Arundel, where churches and charitable organizations traditionally have provided baskets filled with food needy residents can prepare in their own homes. The food basket continues to be the most popular kind of holiday assistance, social workers said.

"The home Thanksgiving is a tradition, and unless they are indigent or destitute most people prefer not to go elsewhere," said Peggy Vick, director of the North Arundel Area Salvation Army, which is preparing 90 Thanksgiving baskets.

Still, social workers applauded Greenberg's efforts. "I would have to commend anyone who gives up their Thanksgiving Day to do this," Vick said.

Persons interested in attending or helping with Greenberg's Thanksgiving dinner should call 841-6280.

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