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November 21, 2012

Dozens expected for Thanksgiving feast in Schoharie

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” — Anne Frank

In the same spirit that drew the Pilgrims together in New England to celebrate the harvest with a feast, a handful of people in Schoharie County got together a quarter century ago and organized a Thanksgiving gathering whose goal was simple: No one should be alone when it’s time to break bread.

Over the years, that event has mushroomed into an annual tradition that now attracts scores of people from local towns and villages. The dinner this year will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Days Inn in Schoharie.

Last year, following devastating flooding driven by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, the event spawned an offshoot in the town of Blenheim. That event will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Blenheim Hose Company/Blenheim Town Hall on Route 30, North Blenheim.

Ethel Benninger, the former operator of the Old Tater Barn catering hall and restaurant, and Kevin Neary, now the Richmondville village mayor, have been mainstays of the Schoharie dinner since they and a few friends came up with the idea 25 years ago.

“It’s a community Thanksgiving dinner, all done with volunteers and funded by donations,” said Benninger, who now handles public relations for the Schoharie County Public Transportation system.

Said Neary: “When we first sat down and talked about doing this, we just thought it would be a nice thing to offer people in the community who would otherwise be alone.”

Students involved with the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School’s Future Business Leaders of America group have become among the most active volunteers in making preparations for the dinner, he said.

“They help us with the takeout meals,” he said. “They’ve been really terrific.”

The feast will be blessed by the Rev. Bert Mayne, pastor of the Carlisle and Esperance United Presbyterian Church, who will also provide musical entertainment in the form of folk songs.

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