Emmanuel Episcopal Church Providing Free Thanksgiving Dinners
Published: November 23rd, 2021
By: Sarah Genter

Emmanuel Episcopal Church providing free Thanksgiving dinners Volunteers from the Emmanuel Episcopal Church who served Thanksgiving dinner in 2018. This year, the church will begin deliveries of Thanksgiving dinners at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. After all deliveries are made, the doors will open for pick-up orders. (Photo by Frank Speziale)

NORWICH — The Emmanuel Episcopal Church, located at 37 West Main Street in Norwich, will be providing free Thanksgiving dinners once again this year.

Beginning at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the church will begin delivering meals that were ordered. Once all orders are delivered, take-out service will begin. Dine-in service will not be available this year due to COVID-19.

To request a meal for either delivery or take-out, call 607-334-8801, or email emmanuelchurch20@gmail.com no later than Wednesday, November 24.

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Co-organizer of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church Thanksgiving Dinner John Klockowski said the church began serving Thanksgiving dinner approximately 15 years ago, thanks to the efforts of his friend Charlie McMullen.

"My good friend, and deceased friend now, Charlie McMullen, he actually started the Taste and See soup kitchen in Oxford well over 20 years ago. And then he moved that operation, [and] he requested to have the Thanksgiving dinner at the Emmanuel in Norwich," said Klockowski. "That was well over 10 years ago, but probably closer to 15."

Klockowski added that he took over running the dinners around five years ago, along with McMullen's previous co-organizer Gary Brookins.

"I was sort of his right hand man in Oxford, and so now I'm kind of carrying the torch," he said. "Gary Brookins is, you know, we're pretty much partners. He runs the administrative portion of the dinner, and I assemble the kitchen help for the Thanksgiving dinner, as well as our monthly meal at the church."

The dinners have shown to be of massive benefit to the community in past years. Klockowski said last year the church served 567 meals.

"Last year we had an all time high, we served 567 meals," he said. "We're hoping that, I mean, for good or for bad, we're hoping to hit 600. You know, and just do a lot, serve many more people. Serve as many as we can."

What's more, the church also works in conjunction with Helping Hands, delivering any extra meals to them at the Norwich Family YMCA.

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"We usually run in tandem with Helping Hands at the YMCA. So whatever extra meals that we have, we transport over to the YMCA so that, you know, they become beneficiary of the extra dinners," said Klockowski.

This year, community members receiving Thanksgiving meals from the Emmanuel Episcopal Church can expect a multitude of Thanksgiving Day staples.

"We will have turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, stuffing, all with gravy," said Klockowski. "And cranberry sauce, of course. What's Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce?"

Unfortunately, the church will not be able to provide homemade pies like they have in past years, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"Unfortunately again due to COVID, we usually had an amazing assortment of pies that we would serve," explained Klockowski. "That would be by purchase, and basically the parishioners of the church and various other people baking pies and bringing them in. But again, due to COVID we can't go that route."

The Thanksgiving dinners provided by the church still promise to be of benefit to the community. Klockowski said this year will be bittersweet due to the recent passing of McMullen, but that he is happy to continue the service.

"This is gonna be a very bittersweet year. I mean, we're happy to do the dinner, but you know, it's going to be without my good buddy Charlie McMullen," he said. "I'm going to do a moment of silence before we actually start serving dinner. And it's gonna hurt, but you know, he's smiling upstairs because we continue with the dinner."

In addition to their annual Thanksgiving dinners, the Emmanuel Episcopal Church also participates in other community events, such as the chicken and biscuit dinner put on by Relay for Life.

"We also cook meals for the Relay for Life, their benefit organization," said Klockowski. "So we typically cook a chicken and biscuit, and I think we'll be doing that in May. At least as it looks right now, with COVID and such."

"Charlie used to do a dinner for Habitat for Humanity, and did a one-off, a couple of meals maybe, for Catholic Charities," he added. "Anybody who usually asks us for assistance, you know, to cook a meal or something, we're more than happy to do so. Anything that benefits the community."


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