CLEAR LAKE | Family is who you meet when you sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner wherever you might be, folks attending Thursday's Interfaith Fellowship for Community Action dinner in Clear Lake said.
"For people who don't have a family to go to for Thanksgiving, this can be their family gathering," said the Rev. Curtis McGinnis, pastor of the Clear Lake Church of Christ, the site of this year's Interfaith dinner.
More than 250 guests were expected and 50-plus volunteers from various local churches were on hand to greet them, serve them and wait on them.
Dinner consisted of 13 baked turkeys, donated by Fareway, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, green beans and a huge selection of home-made pies donated by individuals from various churches.
BACK IN THE KITCHEN, Dennis DeJager and Dan Thompson, members of Clear Lake's Evangelical Free Church, whipped out the mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. They had been working since 8:30 in the morning in what has become an annual ritual for them.
"We've been blessed working with all the other people," said Thompson. "We wouldn't have it any other way."
Franklyn Sotelo-Ruiz, a member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church, scooped out the dressing to a continous line of diners, as his sons, Franklyn, 12, and Anthony, 9, picked up finished plates of food and brought them back to the kitchen.
"I clean up and throw away all the garbage," said Anthony.
He and his brother agreed it wasn't a bad way to spend Thanksgiving Day.
"It feels delightful in my heart," said Anthony.
"I think it's pretty fun helping others," said Franklyn.
Among the grateful diners were Kaari Kreitlow of Clear Lake, her son, Ashton, 8, her sister Barb Dillon of Livermore, Dillon's son, Parker, 11, and a nephew, Alex Kreitlow, 14.
"It was just the five of us today and the boys said it's not Thanksgiving unless you eat turkey," Kaari Kreitlow explained.
THE FOOD DID NOT DISAPPOINT.
"I really like it," said Parker, as he finished a piece of pie. "I think they did a really good job."
"It's nice that they do this," Barb Dillon said. "Everyone is so friendly."
Pete and Ethel McLaughlin of Clear Lake have attended the Interfaith Thanksgiving dinners before, they said.
"Being our family's grown up, we're by ourselves," said Pete. "We decided we'd be out here."
Ethel was one of the many pie-bakers who baked pies for the occasion.
"It's nice not to have to make the dinner," she said, smiling.
FRIENDS PAM TAYLOR, Glenna Putney and Sharen Roenfanz, who live in Lake Plaza Apartments, decided to take in the Interfaith Thanksgiving dinner since each of them was alone on Thanksgiving this year.
"It's nice to share a meal, especially Thanksgiving," said Taylor, whose family does not live close by.
Roenfanz, whose children will join her for dinner Friday, said she was really impressed with past IFCA dinners.
"It's such a nice thing to be a part of," she said. "You see a lot of people."
She added, "We're already looking forward to the next one."