Students, volunteers prepare for Thanksgiving at the Berkshire Food Project


Photo Gallery | Berkshire Food Project preps for Thanksgiving meal

NORTH ADAMS — Eight-year-old Sasha Tufts made 12 little turkey centerpieces for Monday's Thanksgiving at the Berkshire Food Project at the First Congregational Church.

One of them is a "lucky turkey."

"Everyone at that table will have good luck," explained Sasha when asked just what the "lucky turkey" centerpiece meant

Sasha was one of several score of people who were working Sunday afternoon to complete the prep work for Monday's dinner. According to Sasha's grandmother, Mary Rouland, Sasha came up with the idea herself and picked out the materials herself.

"I made several suggestions, and Sasha disagreed with most of them," said Rouland with a laugh.

Rouland is not just the materials advisor for turkey centerpieces. She also works as a year-round volunteer for the Berkshire Food Project, which sponsors this event. The BFP serves, on a daily basis, anywhere from 80 to 125 people every day.

The BFP is a non-profit volunteer organization that feeds area residents on a year-round basis, according to Executive Director Valerie Schwarz. The event has been hosted by the First Congregational Church since 1987, according to James Mahon, president of the Board of Directors of the BFP.

On Monday, said Schwarz, anywhere from 200-250 people will visit the church for a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings.

That would include, said Schwarz, turkey, Florida Mountain turnip, homemade stuffing, 37 different homemade pies, apple cider and salad.

Doors open 4 p.m.

"We'll serve food until no one shows up," said Schwarz. "We've never run out of food."

Students from both MCLA and Williams College were part of the group on volunteers working on Sunday.

Most of the Williams students were football players. Williams football coach Aaron Kelton is a strong believer in community service, according to student Russell Manyette, a junior linebacker.

"Coach believes very strongly in giving back to the community," said Manyette. "These are the folks that come out and support us, so we have an obligation to support them. Besides, [the prep work] is two hours. We can do two hours."

Manyette and his teammates were cutting up turnips. The work, he reported, was going smoothly.

Vincienza Alicandri, 15, was working nearby. A student at the Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School, she has been volunteering at the church since she was in third grade.

"I love volunteering," she said. "There's just something about it that makes me feel happy. [Monday], I know the people who come here will be happy, too, and I love knowing that."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.

Editor's note: This article was updated on Nov. 22, 2015, to modify the names of the Berkshire Food Project and BART Charter Public School, and to correct that the doors will open at 4 p.m.


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