A fresh baked turkey that tantalizes your palette. Thick slices of cranberry sauce straight from the can. And yams so sweet that part of you feels guilty for gobbling them up. All of these delights are just a few of my favorite things about Thanksgivings. And this holiday season, I had the privilege of serving these joys to the thousands who gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the Safeway Feast of Sharing.
Held annually since 1999, this event seeks to provide Thanksgiving dinners to a needy community comprised of nearly 5,000 elderly, homeless, and underprivileged individuals. The cause is generously supported by organizations such as The Safeway Corporation, The Salvation Army and other community partners. In addition to the banquet, health services and a clothing distribution were provided to all who were in need.
Upon arriving at the convention center on this frigid fifth day of giving, my coworkers and I were welcomed by the bustling ambiance of volunteers. It was heartwarming to see people from all across the community. It was especially encouraging to see the Woodrow Wilson and H.D. Woodson Senior High School football teams working sided by side. For on Thanksgiving, these two teams will clash in the district’s infamous Turkey Bowl. Other notable guests included Mayor Gray, DC Councilmembers Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and the cheerleaders from the Washington Redskins. But perhaps the best surprise of all was seeing the vivacious kids of Ketcham Elementary, a proud participant of United Soccer Club and United Reads program.
While serving at the event, volunteers were assigned specific shifts that ranged from greeting guests, seating the elderly, preparing meals, delivering orders and cleaning off the tables. But no matter the role and responsibility, everyone had the pleasure of fellowship. Smiles were shared throughout the room as spirited personalities swooned at the table and volunteers worked hand-in-hand.
In the end, the Feast of Sharing yielded more than just a bountiful meal; it imparted an uplifting sense of hope, faith and hospitality. For if we put aside our differences and come together under one roof, there’s a great feast that is waiting to be shared.