Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

New Freedom to serve community Thanksgiving dinner

By: Shelley Widhalm | The Surveyor | November 18, 2022 | Local News

New Freedom is turning its church building into a large dining hall for the 16th annual Thanksgiving Dinner and wants not just church members but the entire community to come.

“We hope everybody…will show up and serve each other and have a good time and bless the community,” said Maranda Rider, café manager of Cornerstone Café at the New Freedom Outreach Center, 250 Mountain Ave. “That’s what we’re here to do is bless the community.”

Thanksgiving Dinner will be served from noon to 4 p.m. to the homeless and those in need, as well as church and community members. Anyone is welcome who may not have family or friends in the area or a place to go.

Courtesy photo – Volunteers serve up a wide variety of desserts at New Freedom church during their annual community Thanksgiving Dinner.

“We transform the whole downstairs of the building into a dining area,” Rider said.

About 30 to 40 tables will be set up in the hallways for dining, and the tables in the café will become the serving area. Everything will be decorated with a pumpkin and fall theme. And there will be a giving tree with cutout leaves with messages of giving peace, love and joy.

Church and community members can sign up to donate food and can check at the café for a checklist of what’s needed. Cash and check donations also will be accepted to cover the costs of the additional food items that don’t get donated.

The result will be the traditional Thanksgiving fare of turkey, ham, mashed and sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, salads, pies and desserts, plus extras like fruit and veggie trays.

“Anything you can imagine shows up that day,” Rider said.

Volunteers coming from the church and community also can sign up to serve the food. Rider estimates there will be 100 to 200 volunteers who will work in 30-minute intervals to set up everything, serve the food and do the cleanup.

Last year, 200 people attended the dinner, and in 2020 during the pandemic, only church members could participate. Before the pandemic, attendance was as high as 400 to 600 people. Because of the pandemic, volunteers began delivering meals in Berthoud, Loveland and Longmont in 2020 and again in 2021.

“I’m hoping that it’s bigger and better than last year,” Rider said. “There’s room for everybody. It has a nice flow to it. We never run out of space, and we never run out of food.”

Donors are asked to bring ready-to-serve food by noon Thanksgiving Day, while food needing to be prepped should be delivered the day before for the café to be able to cook it.

“We just want to be a light. We want to share the joy and blessings we get all year long,” Rider said.

New Freedom started the dinner when it became part of the 137 Inclement Weather Night Shelter operated by the 137 Homeless Connection in Loveland in partnership with local churches, which hosted the homeless on a rotating basis. New Freedom hosted the homeless the Sunday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after the holiday for both the overnight stays and dinner meals, including the Thanksgiving meal that also welcomes the community. Since the pandemic, the church hasn’t hosted the homeless due to operational changes at 137, including reduced shelter numbers.

For additional details about New Freedom’s Thanksgiving Dinner, call 970-344-5139.

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