Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner efforts gearing up


By Jim Poole

The Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner isn’t falling by the wayside even though long-time organizer Kevin Neary is no longer with us.
Volunteers are planning the meal that serves hundreds, dedicating their work to Mr. Neary, who led the effort for more than 30 years but died in July.
“Kevin did a lot of the background work, but he never wrote anything down. That was Kevin,” Colleen Flynn said, laughing.
Mr. Neary was the spearhead for the dinner, with the original idea being that people who were alone could gather for the holiday meal. Now, with the meal being home-delivered, it still serves the needy or people living alone.
Ms. Flynn chairs the committee, Sheila Wilday is treasurer, and Ethel Benninger has come out of retirement to help with the planning.
Chef Richard Benninger of the Olde Tater Barn will do the cooking, and Schoharie County Sheriff Ron Stevens is allowing volunteers to use the kitchen at the new jail in Howes Cave for cooking and packaging.
Last year volunteers delivered 525 meals, and this year, because of COVID, Ms. Flynn expects to deliver 600.
Volunteers are gearing up for the dinner that’s less than a month away, but they need help, too.
Ms. Flynn and the committee are seeking monetary donations and also donations of rolls and at least 75 pies.
They’re also looking for volunteers to help the day before Thanksgiving and the holiday itself. Twenty drivers delivered meals last year, and Ms. Flynn hopes they’ll drive again this year.
Also, volunteers are needed to package pie, rolls and cranberry sauce on Wednesday and kitchen help for Mr. Benninger Thanksgiving morning.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to give back to your community,” Ms. Flynn said. “Many volunteers make the Thanksgiving Day Dinner happen.”
On Thanksgiving Day, she added, Mr. Neary’s wife, Dee, and daughter Meghan will be on site to help with the dinner.
“It’s a great tribute to Kevin to have his family there,” Ms. Flynn said.
To donate money, send a check to Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner, 2783 State Route 7, Cobleskill.
To volunteer or to ask questions, contact Ms. Flynn at the county Office of Emergency Management, 518-295-2276 or on her cell, 518-944-1284 or reach out to
Those who contact Ms. Flynn will also learn about upcoming meetings about the dinner.