Thanksgiving in Sebastopol

It was Linda Collin’s 19th year organizing the Community Thanks­giving dinner at the Community Church of Sebastopol, but it was her first year doing it without her husband and co-organizer Roger Collins, who died in January. Linda and friends served an estimated 750 people. Linda thanks the family, friends and volunteers that made the event successful and made it possible for her to carry on the tradition of giving she shared with Roger for many years.

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— Laura Hagar Rush

Thanksgiving in Guerneville

Penny Rivas and her volunteer crew again served free turkey dinners to all who showed up in the Guerneville Veterans Hall on Thanksgiving Day last week.

“It was awesome. We had anywhere from 500 people,” Rivas said. “It was absolutely beautiful.”

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Penny Rivas has been serving Thanksgiving Dinner for 19 years in Guerneville. She started by serving Thanksgiving to the homeless under the Guerneville Bridge.

Rivas credited volunteers who come from all over the Bay Area, as well as the lower Russian River, to help with the feast. Supporters included Santa Rosa’s Lighthouse Christian Church which “outdid itself,” said Rivas. “Willowside Meats did a phenomenal job,” smoking the turkeys, said Rivas. Suzy Kuhr of Smart Pizza in Guerneville offered the use of her restaurant ovens. Monte Rio’s Northwood Restaurant donated refrigerator space. Monte Rio Fire Protection District volunteers helped serve dinners.

“It’s my family,” said Rivas, who’s been orchestrating the community dinner for 19 years, since she first served free Thanksgiving dinners underneath the Guerneville Bridge in 2000.

The holiday dinner project got started because “I was completely blown away by how many people were on the streets in downtown Guerneville” on Thanks­giving when all the businesses were closed,” Rivas said. “It dawned on me that they had nowhere to go.”

Since then she’s been getting help from “an army of people in this town who will stop at nothing to give endlessly,” said Rivas. She couldn’t do it without “the business owners behind the scenes who want no credit and really stand with me.”

— Frank Robertson

 

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