Thanksgiving feast for 800 guests 28 years strong
The spirit of Thanksgiving was celebrated at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School in Nepean where organizer Ed Mahfouz and his family have welcomed thousands of guests for nearly 30 years.
Ed, his wife, son and an army of volunteers, consisting of family members, school students and staff, carved up thirty turkeys, mashed hundreds of potatoes and prepared stuffing, vegetables and dessert for more than 800 guests.
“Sometimes we don’t realize what we have, all the time we count what we don't have,” said Mahfouz, “They say thank you very much, but at the same time they have impacted me too and I appreciate it, we are grateful for what we have and this is a good time of year to give back to the community.”
One guest, named Mary, has attended the dinner since the beginning. Mary feasted on a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy with pumpkin pie and apple pie.
“What else do you want? That's thanksgiving,” she said. ”This is my thanksgiving and I’ve been coming every year.”
Mary and many others shared similar stories.
“I'm the only one left in my family you see,” said one man.
Kerry Kolodiazny made the trip from Orleans; he said the meal is something he looks forward to every Thanksgiving.
“It feels good, it's nice and warm; a real good spirit here. I love it, I come back every year. I'll be back next year.” Kolodiazny said.
Dwayne Clarke used to be one of the hundreds sitting down for the meal; struggling with poverty as a child. “I know what it's like growing up in Montreal not having much, growing up here not having much,”
Clarke said he is fortunate enough to be serving guests in attendance with his daughter; showing her the value of service to community.
“This is what we're supposed to do, give love, show love,” said Clarke.
Volunteers in the kitchen washed dishes and bowls, while students and basketball players with Goulbourn Hornets served and prepared meals.
“I just hope they have a really good thanksgiving here with us working really hard for them and they have a great rest of the year,” said Elsie Ross.
“It's all about family, thanksgiving is about family so helping out,” said George Koutras who sliced turkey for the meal.
Tatiana Vorobej led the kitchen staff at Sir Guy Carleton.
“To see them at work makes me realize okay I have to review what I think it means to celebrate Thanksgiving,” she said.
Mahfouz and his family were supported by the community who donated food and clothing for guests to take home after the meal. Many promise to return for next year’s feast.