Thanksgiving in the Park: A Week of Service to the Immokalee Community

Last year, St. John became the primary faith-based organization for Thanksgiving in the Park.  Now in its 36th year, Thanksgiving in the Park is an incredible opportunity to serve and share food, culture, and love by providing thousands of people in Immokalee with a hot Thanksgiving meal.  Last year, we fed over 1,500 people on Thanksgiving Day.  This year, with the devastation in Immokalee from Hurricane Irma, we potentially may be called on to serve another thousand individuals, so we need all the help we can get.  Saint John the Evangelist is assuming the primary role for every facet of Thanksgiving in the Park, so there are opportunities to assist for every member of our Parish Family all week long.  Here are some of our needs:

  • Saturday, November 18, and Sunday, November 19: Bring Your Turkey to Church Weekend – Please bring a pre-cooked, frozen turkey to Mass over this weekend. You can purchase these pre-cooked, frozen turkeys at Walmart (Butterball brand comes pre-cooked) and Publix, where you can get them at the Deli Counter.  We need at least 100 turkeys this year to feed the larger set of people in need.  We cannot take raw uncooked or frozen turkeys since we do not have the facilities to defrost and then cook dozens of turkeys.  We need them pre-cooked professionally to ensure the turkeys are fully cooked, which is why we request the turkeys to be purchased as pre-cooked and frozen.  We will also collect store-bought pies.
  • Wednesday, November 22: Turkey Shredding and Packing Day – We will have 2 hour shifts from 8 AM to 4 PM in the Ballroom for volunteers to shred the turkeys we have received. Please bring your own kitchen knives and utensils to cut up the turkeys.  There is work for all ages, including packing the turkey and other items, helping move the heavy turkeys around to get them shredded, and making pictures for the decorations for the park.
  • Thursday, November 23: Serving Thanksgiving Lunch – We will be out at the Immokalee Airport Park starting at 8:30 AM to setup both the park and the food service. Volunteers are needed to get the food warmed up and ready for the 11 AM start.  Once the meal is concluded, we will need further assistance in cleaning and packing the materials back up to come to St. John.
  • Friday, November 24: Clean-Up Morning We will use our industrial kitchen’s dishwasher and sinks to clean all the pots, pans, and other materials from the park. We will begin around 9 AM.

Please contact our office (239) 566-8740 or email me jp@sjecc.com to sign up for any of the activities of these days if you are interested in supporting this wonderful moment of encounter and service.  We have again received Collier County-wide approval for Thanksgiving in the Park to be considered a service opportunity for the public high school students.  Thank you so much for continuing to serve the community with your gifts of time, talent, and treasure!

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