Volunteers are Grateful to Give Back at Central Maine Holiday Tradition

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OAKLAND, Maine. (WABI) More than a hundred volunteers helped feed over a thousand people Thursday in central Maine.

The annual Thanksgiving event is a tradition among community members that's been growing in size for more than thirty years.

"It seems like every year there seems to be more and more people coming out either coming in to eat or just deliveries."

Some come for the food, others come for the company. An annual tradition started decades ago by the generosity of local legend Bud King has attracted well over a hundred volunteers to help it run smoothly.

What sets this community dinner apart from many free Thanksgiving feasts is that the kitchen is largely run by students.

"We've got so many kids involved. Some of these kids come back every year. A lot of the older volunteers come back year after year after year," said Mike Perkins, organizer.

Behind the counter, Brock Garten helps run the kitchen. He graduated Messalonskee High School in in 2011 and he's been working this event in Oakland since he was 15.

He's delivered meals across central Maine on Thanksgiving as well, but took over kitchen operations three years ago. He says he's impressed that so many kids are happily volunteering on the holiday.

"To see kids like that coming out and not only helping their community but actually doing work on thanksgiving when they don't need to be- that's huge. You don't always see that anymore and to still see it happening with the younger kids, its great," said Garten.

Two of those kids are enrolled at Messalonskee Middle School and spent their day taking drink orders out front.

"Would you say running this cart you need a lot of patience?"

Emma and Rileigh say they're thankful to meet new people and to give back to those less fortunate.

"Great food and a lot of nice people."

This event continues to get bigger each year attracting more first-time volunteers like Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason who was glad to drive meals to folks that couldn't come out to Oakland.

"This is the first time we've done it. Two of our children are kind of to the winds and we didn't have a lot to do so we said 'we're going to give back,'" said Mason.

Being thankful to give back was the sentiment volunteers shared this Thanksgiving and those picking up meals or dining with friends were thankful to be thought of and for the warm company of their neighbors and family.