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Wednesday, June 12, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsPenn-Scipio Thanksgiving Luncheon Serves More Than 300 Meals to St. Thomas Community

Penn-Scipio Thanksgiving Luncheon Serves More Than 300 Meals to St. Thomas Community

Volunteers at the Penn-Scipio Thanksgiving luncheon served food for hours, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. (Photo by Ananta Pancham)

The line for food was already winding around the bandstand in Emancipation Garden late Thursday morning when volunteers took a minute to hold hands, say grace and express their gratitude for life and the spread before them.

The annual Penn-Scipio Thanksgiving luncheon on St. Thomas has been going strong for nearly 30 years now, but volunteers and donors — Voices of Love, the team at I. Levin, Caribbean Foods and the V.I. Port Authority, along with local families, among them — have a big hand to play in the more than 300 meals that were handed out this year. During grace, organizer Francine Penn-Scipio asked for a moment of silence for one of the event’s biggest donors, Leo Barbel, who passed away earlier this year.

Francine Penn-Scipio, in pink, asks for a moment of silence for Leo Barbel, who she said donated food to the event for more than 20 years. (Photo by Ananta Pancham)

The luncheon was the brainchild of Penn-Scipio and her husband Clarence Sipio, and started with the simple goal of feeding the island’s unhoused population and senior citizens. Guided by his faith, Clarence Scipio thought of the feast as a showing of love and brotherhood, not only because of the time the couple spent with people who stopped by to eat but because of the community support it received.

Volunteer Stedmann Hodge serves up his famous red-pea soup, with pork. (Photo by Ananta Pancham)

Asked why she continues to do it, Penn-Scipio said simply, “because I love it.” Each year, along with transporting seniors from across the island to Emancipation Garden, at least 30 meals are also set aside to bring to the residents of Ebenezer Gardens in Hospital Ground. On the menu along with turkey is chicken, ham, veggies, lasagna and this year, saltfish.

“The people are always very grateful — many of them are needy, and it’s just a wonderful thing to be able to do for our community,” Penn-Scipio said.

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