BENSON — Food, fellowship and community were order of the day Wednesday at Feed Benson Thanksgiving.
Attendance exceeded expectations with turnout the strongest yet for the seventh annual event. A constant flow of visitors traversed the doors at First Baptist Church, 983, S. Ocotillo Ave., with help from Benson Area Transit who shuttled visitors in and out throughout the day.
Although the exact figure was not readily available, organizers quickly recognized the record attendance as the food supply got to its lowest level ever. But there was more than enough holiday fare for everyone who attended and enjoyed the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings prepared and served by an army of volunteers.
Lauren Kreps, 10, was one of those who gave of her time and effort for the benefit of others. She attended with detail the beverage station and ensured the cups of water and lemonade were filled and primed for delivery to . Helping out, she said, made her feel “really good.”
More than 20 San Pedro Valley High School students arrived to lend a hand and helped to shuttle dinners, drinks and desserts and assisting in whatever capacity.
SPVHS Lead Teacher Shannon Sherman said it was their first involvement in Feed Benson Thanksgiving.
“It’s amazing, this is so neat,” she said, looking over the massive crowd enjoying dinner and conversation. “The students are loving it. I’ve watched them sit and talk with some of the people eating by themselves and that’s fun to see... and it’s nice to be able to serve,” she said, acknowledging this occasion marked the beginning of a new tradition for SPVHS
Student Jacob Edington concurred with Sherman’s assessment.
“It’s pretty fun… I get to help people and it makes me feel pretty good,” the SPVHS senior said.
Attendees were equally pleased.
Cookie Tremblay, there with Tony Traversone, enjoyed the meal and goodwill.
“I love Benson I really do. People reach out to each other and it’s genuine,” said the Boston transplant, while conversing with Alice and Randy Huffman.
“This is great,” said Alice. “It’s absolutely wonderful, it’s what it’s all about.” “It exceeded my expectations,” added Randy with regard to the holiday meal and camaraderie.”
“It’s wonderful… what it’s all about,” said Alice Huffman, there with husband Randy, while conversing with and enjoying the holiday meal with Cookie Tremblay and Tony Traversone.
As attendance has grown each year, Michelle Beel, who initiated and oversees the annual undertaking, described Wednesday’s event and all the volunteers who helped as “amazing.”
“All we can do is keep doing with whatever God blesses us with… we’re blessed, we’re beyond blessed,” said Beel.
In all, volunteers prepped, cooked and served up 23 turkeys, 150 pounds of potatoes, tons of stuffing and enough pumpkin pie to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Organizers are expecting the the Eighth Feed Benson Thanksgiving to be even bigger and better.