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November 26. 2012 8:29PM

Volunteers help make Thanksgiving special in Berlin and beyond

BERLIN - For the seventh year, community members in the state's northernmost city came out to put meaning into the "giving" part of Thanksgiving.

Over 50 volunteers used their culinary and other skills to make sure 300 elderly and low-income residents enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with all the fixings. It was held at the Valley Creek Eatery on Hillside Avenue in Berlin.

Since 2006, Valley Creek has been hosting the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, its generosity supplemented by the contributions from Berlin IGA, Lepage Bakeries, Berlin City Chevrolet employees and others.

"The community response to the call for volunteers was heartening," Roland Pinette, one of the event organizers, said.†"The Androscoggin Valley is blessed to have so many selfless folks, willing to spend time away from their own families on this holiday to bring happiness to the families of others.†It is, personally, very gratifying to work with such devoted individuals, charitable organizations and generous businesses."

Rafferty's Restaurant & Pub in North Conway hosted 75 community members for its free dinner, providing turkey and all the side dishes and desserts to those whose personal funds would be too stretched to cover the cost, or who might otherwise be alone for the holiday.

"It makes it a wonderful day," Linda Rafferty said, adding that her extended family, including her eight-month-old grandson, came up and helped out, and along with the other volunteers enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner. She said the restaurant was fortunate to get some donated turkeys from the local food pantry, and three huge trays of cookies from the Valley Girls, local students.

The restaurant did†have a donation container, and money collected is being†donated to the Vaughn Community Service's food pantry.

"It's a nice way to give back," Rafferty said.

On Saturday, the Lincoln-Woodstock Food Pantry gave people a chance to get a break from all those turkey-themed leftovers, and to give back too. The pantry hosted an affordable ($5 each) spaghetti dinner, with proceeds going to restocking the pantry's cupboards.

Efforts to ensure that no one goes hungry continue through the holiday season, with events such as the third annual Bowls for Hunger, which raises awareness and funds for area food pantries. Bowls for Hunger takes place at the Up Bar in Horsefeathers Restaurant in North Conway Village on Wednesday. For $12, diners get a bowl of chowder, breads and rolls, and homemade cookies, and get to take home a ceramic bowl made by the Kennett high and middle schools' art students.

All proceeds go to the Vaughn food pantry.

syoungknox@newstote.com

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