Ministry cooks up annual meal

Shepherd's Staff prepares community feast

November 19, 2006|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Sun Reporter

Kathy Brown said the meal wouldn't be complete without mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing.

"You have to have mashed potatoes, and they want that homemade gravy and stuffing, just like you do at home with the celery and onions," said Brown, director of the Shepherd's Staff, a Westminster-based ecumenical ministry.

She admitted, however, that the mashed potatoes are now boxed, rather than freshly peeled tubers.

"We do everything like homemade, except the potatoes - it was just too much," she said.

When you're feeding 350, it's a bit much to ask volunteers to peel that many potatoes.

Brown, her staff, and a group of volunteers, are gearing up for the organization's 13th annual community Thanksgiving Day dinner, scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. Thursday at St. John Roman Catholic Church school, 45 Monroe St., Westminster.

"You never know - it could be 200 to 400," Brown said. "Whoever comes is welcome, and we never run out of food. We give leftovers away to the people there, and we give them carryouts to take home."

There's also a table loaded with fresh fruit, nuts, wrapped candy, snacks and baked goods, for diners to take home also.

"They fill up a bag and take what they want," Brown said.

Brown started the dinner "so there would be a place for people to come to so they could have food and share fellowship. It's really people with no other place to go for Thanksgiving."

Even the volunteers, especially those who have been around a few years, become like a family on Thanksgiving Day.

For the last two years, Main Street barber Cal Bloom has switched from tonsorial artist to turkey chef for the annual dinner.

Along with at least a dozen 20-pound turkeys to bake, there's a dozen turkey breasts that need heating up.

Bloom said he'll start Tuesday night baking the birds at St. John's school kitchen.

"I'll do some Tuesday, take them out and do some more Wednesday morning, take them out and do some more Wednesday night, depending on how many turkeys there are," Bloom said.

On Thursday morning, Bloom will be at the school getting ready to make the stuffing and gravy. He'll stay through the dinner, making sure there's plenty of turkey on the serving tables.

"I have a good time, but it's a lot of work," Bloom said.

When he's done at St. John, he goes home to have turkey with his own family.

The dinner is not just for the community, it is also by the community that chips in with donations of food and ingredients.

Beside hosting the dinner every year, St. John also asks its parishioners to donate the canned vegetables for the meal, said church receptionist Monica Metzger.

The menu includes green beans, corn, sauerkraut, cranberry sauce, desserts, coffee and tea.

"There's a lot of real variety," said school cafeteria manager Chris Joram. "They [parishioners] pile it all on the table - some bring in regular cans, or the No. 10 cans that can feed 20 to 25 people - then the Shepherd's Staff people come in and get it."

Brown also gets help from the community.

This year's needs include pumpkin and apple pies, cookies, brownies, wrapped candy, coffee, sugar, brown sugar, flour, butter, milk, eggs, onions, celery, salt and pepper, paper products and lunch bags for the take-home food.

"We do need things, especially for the goody table - the apples and oranges are big because people don't get that, and they are expensive," Brown said.

"We always need coffee, lemonade mix, and poultry and sage seasonings because they're expensive," Brown added. "I need dollars, so I am looking at financial donations for the dinner."

The Shepherd's Staff asks that food donations be dropped off between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the St. John school cafeteria.

For more information about the dinner or donations, call 410-857-5944.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.