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Thanksgiving Comes to St. Thomas

No pilgrims in those funny hats and collars lurking about, no Wampanoag Indians bearing gifts, in fact, the closest thing to that original Thanksgiving Day may be the Mayflower, or at least a schooner moored in the harbor.

No matter, the Thanksgiving tradition was alive on St. Thomas Thursday, as the community rallied for the holiday with a wealth of good will celebrating the spirit of the day.

From Ulla Muller Elementary School, where the Caribe Tradewinds Lodge 589 and Pearls of the V.I. 585 dished up its annual meal, to downtown, where folks were gathering together to share the bounty of good food and good fellowship.

Music rang out from the Salvation Army chapel where attorney Tom Bolt held forth leading those gathered there to sing for their supper, encouraging his audience to sing the familiar strains "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come."

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Bolt, chair of the Salvation Army advisory board, preceded Captain Edwin Velez at the pulpit, as an army of volunteers off-stage put the finishing touches on a lavish feast. Velez remarks were short and sweet. He told those gathered before him. "Once in my life, I had food and shelter, but I didn’t have Jesus in my heart. Now, I have Jesus in my heart and we want to serve you, all of you. Bless you."

And serve they did. This is the 23rd year of the Army’s Thanksgiving celebration. It has become a highly organized and happy procedure, as all sorts of community volunteers stand behind a serving line dishing up turkey, ham, sweet potato stuffing, coleslaw, yams, macaroni and cheese, breads, and salads, to another group of volunteers who load trays taking them out to the chapel to serve.

The volunteers come in all ages: a group of Charlotte Amalie High School Future Business Leaders were busily loading up trays.

"We did this last year, too," said Deja Williams. "It’s part of community service, and it’s fun because we get to help others."

Veteran George Goodwin handled the carving chores, while volunteers like Sandra Kelly, who has volunteered for years, made certain all the volunteers had plastic gloves and little white paper hats.

Sgt. Maj. Doris Archibald, meantime, was stacking up meals to deliver to those at home.
Familiar faces, familiar greetings, signaling this really is Thanksgiving.

Down the road at Emancipation Garden the Penn-Scipio family was feeding anyone who was hungry with their usual groaning board of treats to one and all, including four happy though mystified Danish tourists.

Perched on a ledge in the Garden, gobbling a welcome meal, Hanna Pruess said, "We were walking downtown, and we smelled the wonderful odors and saw all the people lining up here, so we came over and asked what was the cost. They told us no cost, just get a plate of food and enjoy."

Pruess shook her head in wonder. "We don’t do this in Denmark," she said. "It’s just so nice." Of course, as was pointed out, they don’t have Thanksgiving in Denmark. "That is so, but we would love to feed our guests like you do."

As the afternoon sun dappled the Garden, those who had been serving all morning took a break for themselves, enjoying the bounty they had been dishing out.

"It’s such a good feeling," said Ivanne Farr.

Corinne Van Rensselaer agreed. "I’ve been coming for years with my church group.
It’s what giving is all about."

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No pilgrims in those funny hats and collars lurking about, no Wampanoag Indians bearing gifts, in fact, the closest thing to that original Thanksgiving Day may be the Mayflower, or at least a schooner moored in the harbor.

No matter, the Thanksgiving tradition was alive on St. Thomas Thursday, as the community rallied for the holiday with a wealth of good will celebrating the spirit of the day.

From Ulla Muller Elementary School, where the Caribe Tradewinds Lodge 589 and Pearls of the V.I. 585 dished up its annual meal, to downtown, where folks were gathering together to share the bounty of good food and good fellowship.

Music rang out from the Salvation Army chapel where attorney Tom Bolt held forth leading those gathered there to sing for their supper, encouraging his audience to sing the familiar strains "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come."

Bolt, chair of the Salvation Army advisory board, preceded Captain Edwin Velez at the pulpit, as an army of volunteers off-stage put the finishing touches on a lavish feast. Velez remarks were short and sweet. He told those gathered before him. "Once in my life, I had food and shelter, but I didn't have Jesus in my heart. Now, I have Jesus in my heart and we want to serve you, all of you. Bless you."

And serve they did. This is the 23rd year of the Army's Thanksgiving celebration. It has become a highly organized and happy procedure, as all sorts of community volunteers stand behind a serving line dishing up turkey, ham, sweet potato stuffing, coleslaw, yams, macaroni and cheese, breads, and salads, to another group of volunteers who load trays taking them out to the chapel to serve.

The volunteers come in all ages: a group of Charlotte Amalie High School Future Business Leaders were busily loading up trays.

"We did this last year, too," said Deja Williams. "It's part of community service, and it's fun because we get to help others."

Veteran George Goodwin handled the carving chores, while volunteers like Sandra Kelly, who has volunteered for years, made certain all the volunteers had plastic gloves and little white paper hats.

Sgt. Maj. Doris Archibald, meantime, was stacking up meals to deliver to those at home.
Familiar faces, familiar greetings, signaling this really is Thanksgiving.

Down the road at Emancipation Garden the Penn-Scipio family was feeding anyone who was hungry with their usual groaning board of treats to one and all, including four happy though mystified Danish tourists.

Perched on a ledge in the Garden, gobbling a welcome meal, Hanna Pruess said, "We were walking downtown, and we smelled the wonderful odors and saw all the people lining up here, so we came over and asked what was the cost. They told us no cost, just get a plate of food and enjoy."

Pruess shook her head in wonder. "We don't do this in Denmark," she said. "It's just so nice." Of course, as was pointed out, they don't have Thanksgiving in Denmark. "That is so, but we would love to feed our guests like you do."

As the afternoon sun dappled the Garden, those who had been serving all morning took a break for themselves, enjoying the bounty they had been dishing out.

"It's such a good feeling," said Ivanne Farr.

Corinne Van Rensselaer agreed. "I've been coming for years with my church group.
It's what giving is all about."