Council of Churches hosts Thanksgiving dinner for the needy


Eight cases of collard greens. Two-and-a-half cases of gravy. Three cases of stuffing. Soft rolls, soda, water, and mashed potatoes.

Oh, and 45 turkeys.

It sounds like a meal kit for a king. In fact, it was a meal for those who need it most.

The Long Island Council of Churches hosted their annual full-course Migrant Worker and Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Polish Hall in Riverhead Tuesday evening.

Riverhead’s LICOC office manager Carolyn Gumbs has coordinated the event for the last 36 years, bringing in donations from individuals, farmers, companies and churches over the past couple of months. She said the event started some about 60 years ago at the AME Zion Church in Flanders by Pastor Kenneth Nelson and moved to Riverhead as it grew. 

Every year, volunteers prepare to feed between 400 to 500 guests. To finish this year’s meal, 60 pies were donated by Briermere Farms of Riverhead and 15 by Michael and Peggy Cause of Shinnecock Hills Reservation.

LICOC executive director Rev.Tom Goodhue said the meals are paid for with in-kind donations of food goods and some cash.

In previous years the event was held at the Riverhead Middle School but was moved last year to Polish Hall because the school is under renovations; some money was used to rent the hall.

Crystal Davis of Southampton has attended for many years since her mother Christine Lacy first volunteered as a cook. She was there Tuesday night with her six children- ages one to eleven.

“It is helpful for people who can’t have their own Thanksgiving meal,” she said.

Scroll down for more photos from the event, taken by Barbaraellen Koch.

LICOC executive director Rev. Tom Goodhue delivers the blessing before the meal Tuesday evening at Polish Hall.
LICOC executive director Rev. Tom Goodhue delivers the blessing before the meal Tuesday evening at Polish Hall.
Volunteer Cassio Norwood of the Shinnecock Reservation brings the pies into the dining room.
Carolyn Gumbs stirs the pot of gravy.
Volunteer Tom Wallace of Wading River with his wife Debbie tastes the mashed potatoes.

Top photo caption: Volunteer server Kevin Fleming of Flanders gets some gravy served by Tricia Littlefield of North Shore United Methodist Church.