WARREN - Unseasonably warm weather meant a busy day Wednesday for volunteers at the Warren Family Mission's 14th annual Thanksgiving dinner.
Allison Mintus, 17, volunteered at the dessert table serving slices of pie and cake. She and several other students from Warren John F. Kennedy High School's National Honor Society were volunteering at the dinner.
"It's eye-opening," said Kayla Powell, 17, also from JFK, "especially seeing kids coming in by themselves. One girl came in, she couldn't have been older than 10. She sat down, ate by herself and then left by herself."
First-time volunteer Chideya Wade, 16, of Warren, dishes out cranberry sauce for Mark Scott of Newton Falls at the annual mission dinner. Chideya is a student at Warren G. Harding High School. Photo by R. Michael Semple
The pre-turkey day feast, held at the mission's Elm Road location, included all-you-can-eat turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and other sides.
"I'll be honest," said Brandy Berry, 32, of Warren, "this year, it feels like there is more food on the plates and more volunteers."
More food is not a problem for Berry, who is eating for two this Thanksgiving. She is pregnant and due next Thursday with a boy, Branjohn. She said this is her third year attending the dinner, and with the weather so nice she was able to walk over from her home.
JoAnn Stone, 64, accompanied by her mother and son, said her family has been coming to the mission for Thanksgiving for the past three or four years. Stone's mother Helen Husk, 88, comes to the mission on a regular basis.
"Everyone here is so nice to her," Stone said about her mother. "They call her 'grandma' and when they see her, give her something special."
Stone said if her daughter and her children would have been able to make it, there would have been four generations eating together. Nevertheless, she said she is thankful "to be alive and for the sunshine."
"It's a blessing," Corey Bradley said of the dinner, "they are able to provide for families that can't provide for themselves."
Bradley, 34, of Warren, said he has been homeless off and on and is now working on becoming a fashion designer. He was taking his dinner home in a to-go box.
Kaye Gwinn of North Bloomfield, took a break from serving corn and sweet potatoes, to sit down with "the stuffing girl" volunteer Barb Gardner of Vienna. It was both women's first year volunteering and they agreed that they were surprised by how polite and grateful everyone was that they served.
"I keep a smile on my face," said Gwinn, "and everyone smiles back."
Gwinn said the hardest story she heard was a women telling her about her car troubles.
"She said this was the only turkey she'll get this year" said Gwinn, "because her car broke and her transmission broke and she won't be able to go out. ... I almost cried"
Gwinn said according to other volunteers the turn out this year was lower than last year, but she enjoyed her time so much that she plans on volunteering on Christmas too.