Help needed to make free dinner for 1,000 a reality CENTRAL COUNTY Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

November 05, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

This Thanksgiving, activist Linda Greenberg's charitable ambitions are extending beyond the homeless and needy.

The Crownsville dynamo is holding a free Thanksgiving dinner for anybody who wants to come -- AIDS patients, lonely rich people, bored singles.

Hoping for 1,000 guests, Ms. Greenberg is looking for "anyone by themselves, anyone who might feel depressed or alienated on that day."

She needs two things to pull off a plan that includes a carnation for every guest, strolling Indians and Pilgrims, extensive entertainment, gifts for the children and a lavish feast.

She needs money, and she needs guests.

Mrs. Greenberg is seeking donations to pay for buses to transports guests, as well as the food and gifts.

Already, help is pouring in. Five florists have offered hundreds of free carnations. Civic groups have promised members to serve as hosts, greeting guests and showing them to tables.

John Lonergan Jr. and his father, John Sr., who run two bus companies in Annapolis, have volunteered the use of two buses for the event and offered to serve as drivers themselves.

High school students plan to decorate the hall at Camp Letts in Mayo, where the dinner will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

But she needs guests, and finding people for a free meal can be harder than it sounds.

"I've had a real tough time contacting people with AIDS," she says. She's called various gay groups and hopes people will spread the word-of-mouth invitations.

"And how do you find people who may be alone on that day, whether rich or poor, sick or healthy? Everyone is welcome, and if they need transportation, I'll find a way to get it if they let me know."

Ms. Greenberg emphasizes that no one attending the dinner will know the background or circumstances of anyone else.

Last year, more than 500 guests attended the free dinner, with 250 volunteers serving the meal. Ms. Greenberg hopes to double the numbers.

She describes the scenario: Teen-agers seat the guests when they arrive. Everyone receives a name tag and a carnation. Guests are then seated at tables of 10, and this year, if they call ahead and reserve a table, people can arrange to sit with family members or friends.

Students from South River High School are coming to the event dressed as clowns and also will help decorate. The Key Club from Arundel High is bringing 30 to 40 turkeys. Women from Heritage Harbour senior center are bringing 50 pies.

Students from Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore are serving as hosts and hostesses, as are youngsters from DeMatha High School near Washington. Severn School is holding bake sales to raise money for board games. Wives of the Washington Capitals are bringing formula and diapers.

The entertainment is equally diverse, from a Baltimore minister who will play the trumpet to a teen-ager singing patriotic songs. A Westminster group of recovered substance abusers will bring a choir, and a non-profit Christian puppet group is bringing its show.

A county Civitan club is sending members dressed as Pilgrims and Indians, and the county Junior League has donated 75 new stuffed animals.

Infants and toddlers will receive formula and disposable diapers. Toddlers will receive stuffed animals and young people new board games, Ms. Greenberg said. For adults, she is hoping for donations of toilet water and cologne.

Anyone wishing to volunteer food or money for the event may call Linda Greenberg at 841-6280. Guests who would like to reserve seats together may call Gloria Brown at Camp Letts, 269-6997.

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