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Free Thanksgiving dinner draws hundreds

More than 250 people attended a recent Thanksgiving dinner hosted by a number of local families in Oshawa’s Memorial Park. (Photo supplied)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The true spirit of Thanksgiving was recently shown loud and clear in Oshawa’s Memorial Park.

Earlier this month, a group of families and individuals gathered together to provide a Thanksgiving meal to about 250 people at the park.

Laurie Chambers was one of the organizers of the event.

According to her, they are all members of the Oshawa ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although it wasn’t a church-led initiative.

“We just saw a need and we did it,” Chambers says.

Memorial Park was a suitable location because it is close to a number of Oshawa’s shelters and areas where members of the local homeless community are known to gather.

However, Chambers points out that they weren’t just serving those lacking housing.

“Homeless people or not, we didn’t say no to anybody,” Chambers says.

The struggles for those less fortunate in Oshawa is nothing new to her.

Chambers helped develop a food bank at the Willow Park Co-Op in North Oshawa more than a decade ago.

“Doing that for the last 11 years, I’ve seen the need,” she notes.

Steadily rising housing costs have put people in a pinch.

“The rents in Oshawa, a two-bedroom is $1,400. Even a person who is on OW, they are well maxed out before that,” she says.

The organizing families donated the turkeys and stuffing, while CN Produce in Bowmanville donated the potatoes.

De Red Snapper food truck was on hand to do all the cooking. In all, 13 turkeys, 100 pounds of potatoes, and 80 pounds of carrots were served up.

For Chambers and her colleagues, the most satisfying part was the joy it brought to those being served.

“They were so grateful it isn’t even funny,” she says.