10-year-old Josie Jones could have been many places Saturday afternoon. She chose to volunteer at 215 Main Street in the City of Beacon, packing up Thanksgiving meals for those in need. Her decision proved priceless.
"I love seeing people walk in and get excited to receive a meal," said Jones about her experience. "It’s taught me that it’s important to get involved with the community, help out, and give back; it gives me a really good feeling."
That same altruistic spirit was shared by the thirty or so volunteers who joined Jones, taking part in the 35th annual Hebron Lodge #48 Prince Hall Free & Accepted Masons’ Holiday Dinner event. Once again, the cooking quarters at 215 Main Street in the City of Beacon served as the home cooking base. Here, an assortment of turkeys were roasted, accompanied by mounds of stuffing and mashed potatoes covered with gravy, along with cranberry sauce, rolls and a sweet dessert. While some of the earlier recipients formed a long line well before the noon starting point to get their meals in person; the other half, mostly homebound folks from Forrestal Heights and Hamilton Fish, had their hot afternoon feasts delivered. One of those busy carriers was Hebron Lodge #48 Worshipful Master (Head of Lodge) Aubrey Mitchell.
"This year there were many calls coming in to us for meals, especially from the elderly," pointed out Mitchell. "People are so thankful to have this available; they have been coming up to me and thanking me all day, just so happy to get these meals."
In addition to the traditional Thanksgiving meal function, funded by the monies of Lodge members and other volunteers, Hebron Lodge also provides year-round weekly meals to those in need at area churches. Due to recent events, the need to feed area residents intensified this year.
"With Hurricane Sandy and the snowstorm, this year has seen more of a demand for meals like today," said John Rembert, Pastmaster for the past 20 years. "It’s very important that those in need be fed; it’s crucial all year round, but especially so during the holiday season, when it can be easy to forget that not everyone is so fortunate." He added, "It’s important to remember, now is the time to come together."
In addition to the environmental challenges, the still struggling economy has made it tough for people from all walks of life to get by. Saturday’s event, laden with good food, smiles, and laughs, offered hope.
"I’m so happy they are doing this for the community," said John Gonzalez as he shook hands with the volunteer handing him his dinner. "I’m looking forward to having every part of the meal, especially the cranberry sauce."
Beacon resident Liz Russett was on hand for the first time. Picking up meals for three fellow Beacon senior citizens, Russett could not erase the smile from her face as she glanced around the joyful room.
"It’s really great to see groups giving back to the community like this," said Russett as she claimed the trio of meals, warmly thanking their providers.
The Hebron Lodge #48 giving continues next month when the group holds their annual Holiday Party for children in Beacon.