ASHLAND The coronavirus claimed another long-standing event in the Ashland community — the Elks Lodge Thanksgiving Dinner.
Mark Ison, coordinator for the event, said this year’s Thanksgiving meal would’ve marked the 30th anniversary of the dinner that serves more than 1,700 per year. But, due to lack of volunteers and a cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Lodge, Ison said they “had to make a decision.”
“I want everyone to know, this hurts us as a bad as it hurts the people who come every year,” Ison said. “They’re like family to us and I think we’re like family to them. I see the same faces every year and it’s going to hurt to not see their faces this year.”
The COVID infections at the lodge accounted for 20 to 25 people, according to Ison. That alone “weighed heavily on the decision.”
“That was the best decision we could make, because we have to take this seriously,” Ison said. “We can’t risk infecting the people who come.”
Every year, the Elks Lodge, through donations, cooks 44 turkeys for the Thanksgiving feast. Ison has been able sell off 11 of the 44 turkeys and has 33 left in the walk-in cooler. Ison stressed the Elks is not making a profit off the turkeys and is only to trying to recuperate costs for future charitable work.
The turkeys are going for $1 a pound at about $20-$25 a bird.
Anyone interested in a turkey may call Ison at (908) 528-6797 to place an order. People can pick up their birds after pre-ordering at the kitchen door of the Elks Lodge located on 9th Street on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
“They’ve been thawing in the cooler, so they’re good for Thanksgiving, but they’re not good for Christmas,” Ison said.
Speaking of Christmas, Ison said the feast for that holiday is still up in the air.
“We’re going to play it by ear,” Ison said.
Community Kitchen open
The Ashland Community Kitchen traditionally closes on Thanksgiving, but it will be open this year.
Executive Director Dr. Desmond Barrett said the Kitchen will hand out bagged meals on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and Friday, Nov. 27, from 11 a.m. to noon. The Kitchen partners with the Rotary Club of Ashland to hand out bagged meals each holiday through "Hunger Knows No Holiday."
The Kitchen's focus is the homeless community. The bagged meals consist of a sandwich, chips, drink, etc. The Kitchen's traditional Thanksgiving meal will take place the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
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