Hundreds share in annual free Thanksgiving dinner

Published: Nov. 23, 2017 at 3:09 PM EST
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Most businesses closed for Thanksgiving but Sweetwaters on Burlington's Church Street couldn't have been busier. There were no menus, no checks and no tips: the restaurant served a free turkey dinner.

This is the 28th year Sweetwaters has held its free Thanksgiving meal for Vermonters in need. The turkey and much of the tasty trimmings are donated, and so is the time of dozens of volunteers who serve.

The meal filled stomachs and warmed hearts.

"We're having a heck of a time. The food is wonderful. This is my first time ever being here and it's wonderful. And the workers are doing a heck of a job with what they're doing. If it wasn't for them... We wouldn't have this meal," said William Mead, one of the diners.

"We just found there was a need for people in the community that had a financial need for food and we also found there's an emotional need as well," said David Melincoff of Sweetwaters. "They come here to be around community and friends, and that's why we call it the community Thanksgiving dinner."

More than 1,000 meals were served. And many were delivered, too, to people who couldn't leave their homes.

The giving had already started even before doors opened at Sweetwaters. Nearly 1100 donated winter coats were handed out just outside the restaurant.