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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Harrow United Church hosts drive-through turkey dinner for 34th annual event

by Garrett Fodor

There was no fighting over the turkey leg on Saturday, as Harrow United Church served a special drive-through style dinner for the community to enjoy.

Members of Harrow United Church (HUC) worked together to organize and host its 34th annual turkey dinner. The event serves as a fundraiser for the parish, offering the meal to the public ahead of time, on a pre-order basis, prior to Saturday.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has shifted from an in-person dine-in or take-out event, to a strictly take-out and drive-through style dinner.

“We used to do 500 takeout, 500 sit down [dinners], but the sit-down meals took four-times the work. We are like a lot of volunteer organizations. It’s getting harder to get people to help out,” Barry Mannell said, who is on the Organizing Committee for the HUC, as well as the Church Council. “We found this was a good way for people to still be able to participate, [and] still be able to provide the turkey dinner, because it is a tradition. But we can do it in an effective manner. We are tremendously grateful for our congregation members and the countless volunteers we have each year.”

In total, on Saturday, the HUC served around 600 meals, going through 38 turkeys, equating to more than 500 lbs of meat. Each meal included turkey, stuffing, gravy, squash, corn, cranberries, and a slice of Harrow Fair Apple Pie. Meals are packaged that day, fresh and hot, through the assembly line of more than 30 volunteers at any given moment, with more than 50 sets of hands having a part in preparing the meal.

“It’s good food and it’s a good fundraiser for the church. It gives back to the community,” Mary Harper said, who has been volunteering with the HUC and the annual turkey dinner for more than 20-years, “We have made lots of great friends through the church, so that keeps us coming back. My favourite part is just coming in and talking to people. You see people from the community, you see your friends, you can check in with people you have not seen in a while. It is a nice opportunity to reconnect with the community and help the church all at once.”

The turkey dinner serves as an annual tradition for the people of Harrow and throughout Essex County, while raising money for Harrow United Church. Funds raised from the event go towards the costs associated with operating the church as well as running programs.

Looking ahead, Harrow United Church will host its “A Rockin’ Christmas Dinner and Show” on December 3, featuring a roast beef dinner, along with a musical performance.

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