Adams couple thankful to share meal with community

Husband and wife Brian and Ana Grande volunteered Thursday to put on a free Thanksgiving at the First Congregational Church in Adams.

ADAMS — This Thanksgiving turned out to be an opportunity for a local couple to fulfill a wish they held dear.

At the First Congregational Church on Park Street, folks were welcome to stop in and have a Thanksgiving feast for free, thanks to the inception and planning of the event by Brian and Ann Grande.

According to the Rev. Mike Mullany, the couple approached him last summer about putting on the dinner, and they were willing to do it all on their own.

"They had this all organized in their heads to where they could do it all on their own," Mullany said.

But of course there were a cadre of folks who volunteered to help, from the church and Hoosac Valley Elementary School — where Mullany works as a substitute teacher — and from the general community.

The Grandes funded the entire operation, including buying the food.

They were at the church kitchen Wednesday morning with some of the volunteers doing the prep work, and back again early Thursday to cook the six turkeys, four hams, 100 pounds of mashed potatoes, 50 pounds of stuffing, and 40 pounds of vegetables.

Parishioners also cooked up 20 pies and five loaves of freshly baked bread, and brought them in for the feast.

Brian Grande said that he was a cook in the Navy and enjoyed the work. He also once cooked for Meals on Wheels. Lately, he and his wife have been trying to come up with a plan for a free Thanksgiving dinner.

So they approached Mullany.

"Being a veteran, I know what some of these homeless vets are up against," Grande said. "We always wanted to do this — it's like a dream of ours. It makes us feel good."

Ann Grande said it's an easy formula.

"Live simply," she said. "Just help people — that's what we wanted to do."

Elizabeth Bushey was there having some dinner with friends. "This is the place to be," she said. "It's the right place to be close to God."

Travis Sawyer and his wife, Becky Sawyer, (principal at Hoosac Valley Elementary School) were also there volunteering their time.

"We heard there was an opportunity to help out, so we just dove in," Travis Sawyer said.

Scott Stafford can be reached at or 413-629-4517.