|STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE
|Volunteers serve a free Thanksgiving dinner open to the public Wednesday night at Lorain County Community College`s College Center. The buffet-style feast was sponsored by LCCC`s Student Life Division.|
ELYRIA – Somewhere between the first forkful of turkey and the last bite of pumpkin pie, all the pretensions disappeared among 400 or so people.
It didn`t matter whether you were a war veteran sitting alone or a college student sitting with a dozen familiar faces – all that mattered Wednesday evening inside Lorain County Community College was that one and all were a welcome part of a mammoth Thanksgiving dinner.
Hundreds of folks showed up at LCCC for the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner offered free to the public. Hosted by the college`s Student Life Division, the dinner is at least in its 20th year – organizers weren`t certain just how long they`d been dishing out the delicacies.
“This is not just for the less-fortunate or needy,” said Shauna Johnson, administrative assistant at LCCC`s Student Life division. “We`re providing dinner for families, individuals – all people.”
More than 30 college students and employees and a handful of community members pitched in to serve food to people who began lining up at 4:30 p.m., though the event didn`t start until 5 p.m.
It was a buffet-style undertaking with dozens of dishes, including turkey, pecan pie and all the essentials to a hearty meal.
It took employees and students from Student Life about two months to organize the event; food donations were provided mainly from LCCC employees and students, and a handful of local businesses pitched in as well, Johnson said.
Some guests came with their family members, some came alone.
“It looks like they`ve got some great food,” said Virginia Charles, 79, who dropped by with her daughter and son from Lorain.
Nearby, a guitarist was playing a Neil Young tune and a woman at a table played her violin.
Army veteran Kenny Kinder, 54, sat by himself, enjoying the music and taking in the crowd. A woman walked over and asked if she could share his table, and he obliged.
“I missed it last year because I didn`t have transportation,” Kinder said. “It`s nice here, as long as it doesn`t have too much holiday stuff, `cuz that kind of bums you out sometimes.”
Cindy Kushner, LCCC`s marketing director, said the dinner was the perfect mix of people and ambiance.
“For some people, there`s a certain comfort that comes with a great warm meal and being around others,” Kushner said. “People come from all walks of life to be here. And we have students and faculty serving them all – it`s a great chance to give back to the community.”