With A Whole Lot Of Help, Activist Feeds 450 People

December 03, 1991|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff writer

You'd think she would collapse.

With 450 guests, Linda Greenberg had one of the most crowded Thanksgiving tables in Maryland last week. But after spreading a traditional feast before senior citizens and people from homeless shelters, the Crownsville community activist couldn't stop talking about how good people are.

"It was incredible. The outpouring of help was double of what I got last year," said Greenberg. "Even though we're in a recession, I feel people are digging deeper and helping from within."

Last year,Greenberg organized donations to feed 150 people during the fall holiday. But this year, the giving was overwhelming, she said.

Many individuals brought food for 500 people -- dozens of turkeys, piles ofstring beans, rows of pies. One woman brought tablecloths for 40 tables. A garden club made 40 centerpieces. An Annapolis bus company donated the use of two buses to transport guests to Camp Letts, a YMCA camp in Mayo that volunteered its dining room. Employees from a seniorcitizens home brought 100 bags of fruit.

"We must have had 85 turkeys," chortled Greenberg. "Beef, ham, turkey, sauerkraut, macaroni salad, cranberry nut salad, potato salad, cole slaw, peas, corn, string beans, rolls, a huge tossed salad and pies and pies."

A pregnantwoman bought and cooked 150 chicken legs. Four florists shops donated 850 carnations, enough for every guest and volunteer. One woman baked 55 pies. An entertainer from Trinidad provided music.

Students from several local schools helped out, including teen-agers from South River High who were "beyond belief," says Greenberg. The students decorated the day before the dinner, dressed as clowns, made phone calls, served as hostesses.

An "onslaught of people" came from homeless shelters in Anne Arundel County, from Baltimore's inner-city housing projects and from nursing homes.

"What made this dinner so special was that everybody was on a first-name basis," Greenberg said. "Everyone had a name tag. Everyone felt on the same level."

The giving didn't end with the dinner. Each guest took home a bag of fruit and, if appropriate, a box of diapers, baby formula and a stuffed animal or a board game. Because enough dinner food had been donated to feed 1,000 people, Greenberg had enough leftovers to give guests an extra box of food.

"Every single morsel was given away to people at the dinner, as well as shelters and the county Food Bank," she said.

She is grateful she could organize this dinner. "It made me realize that underneath all our veneers, we all are alike," Greenberg said. "We all have the same needs and the same opportunities to be happy andgrateful."

But she isn't just sitting around feeling wonderful, or even tired. Greenberg already is plotting next year's feast. "I want to double it," she said. "I want to have two shifts. I want to feed1,000 people."

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