Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Friday, November 23, 2012
A day for giving thanks
Sunshine and turkey blessed many at outdoor dinner Thursday

Allan Wicker sat at a makeshift table outside of St. Mary's Soup Kitchen, a turkey dinner with all of the trimmings in front of him. Next to him was his wife of 17 years, Claudia.

Regardless of his circumstances, the Vietnam veteran was very humble and thankful for this day, and for the people who made it all happen.

"It's a wonderful day," he said as he tried to keep his long beard from dunking into his food while sitting in a his wheelchair. "She (Claudia) is the best blessing in the world to me."

And the best part of the day? There were no reservations needed and it was free.

Some 150 people gathered for the Thanksgiving Day dinner served by volunteers and staff of the soup kitchen. The hungry came on bikes and still others wandered in around 1 p.m. for the blessing given by Father John Baker, a priest at St. Mary's Star of the Sea church.

"God bless you all," he said as he welcomed the crowd. "We pause on this day to give God the glory."

While the diners ate ceasar salad, mashed potatoes, turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce, volunteers of all ages walked around and handed out bread and warm smiles.

Myron Makris, a violinist from Key West, had a big smile on his face when asked why he gave up his holiday to serve the needy.

"These are my family," he said with conviction as he scanned the crowd. "It is such a good place and I have made many friendships since coming here."

For most of the men and woman who sat at the table, this is the only food they will eat today, said Angela McClain, the director of the soup kitchen on Flagler Avenue.

In all, the group cooked 31 turkeys Wednesday morning getting ready to feed the masses.

"We also made up bags with a ham or peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cookies and orange juice for them to take with them," she said as she coached the volunteers on getting the dessert ready to take outside. "This is an earlier time today. They will get hungry later."

A woman known only as Doris sat quietly at a table full of men and talked about what the holiday meant to her. She arrived a little late so she was seated in the sunshine outside of the overhang.

"I love turkey," she said. "But Christmas is still my favorite holiday."

Now that Thanksgiving has arrived and is gone, McClain turns her energy to the next holiday.

"We get to do it all over again at Christmas," she said as she handed off a stack of pumpkin pies to a volunteer.


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