Thanksgiving in the Park 2018: Grateful to our Parish Family

Stewardship, that term meaning the equal engagement of time, talent, and treasure, is not just some word to our Parish Family.  We live and breathe it every single day as we accomplish our Mission: To Know, To Love, and To Serve God in His Church and In Our Community.  There is no single moment of the year that showcases our stewardship as Thanksgiving in the Park, now completely operated by Saint John the Evangelist.

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Thanksgiving in the Park

My wife, Donna, who leads Thanksgiving in the Park, and I were blown away this year with the sheer volume of donations, support, and encouragement we received in serving over 2,000 meals on Thanksgiving Day to those in need in Immokalee.  What is most impressive to us is the completeness of our Parish Family that supported the event.  Nearly every Ministry joined together, along with hundreds of volunteers from our church and the area to ensure a successful endeavor.  From everyone who brought 252 turkeys and 138 pies (or supported the purchase with gifts) on Bring Your Turkey to Church Weekend to the multiple shifts of turkey shredders the day before to the dozens of dedicated individuals that served the meals, this Thanksgiving in the Park could not have been better organized and executed.  These pictures speak to the thousands that were served, the smiling faces of the youth and their parents who came out in massive amounts for a Thanksgiving Meal.

There are way too many people to thank that make Thanksgiving in the Park such a wonderful expression of our faith, service to the community.  From the vendors like the Publix at Airport and Vanderbilt, that not only helped us ensure enough turkeys, but donated 13 whole Thanksgiving Meals for families of 6, to the On Ice company that donated the cooler truck to the SJE Knights of Columbus Council 11281 who never flinched to provide support every way needed, to the Diner on 41, which cooked the over 30 frozen turkeys we received so we could shred and serve them, we have such gratitude.  There are some standouts, however.  Bill Warvel led the Take Your Turkey to Church Weekend, ensuring we were able to fill our walk-in fridge with turkey at every Mass.  Bill Fuller led our turkey shredding day yet again this year, making sure we got every ounce of meat off the birds for the meals.  He, along with JD De Sousa and Tony Scire, then got out to the Park by 7 AM to set up and run the warming truck for the potatoes and turkey and every plate was hot and delicious.  The Sattlers and the Corbinos made sure the gravy and beans were ready as well as then serving the meals.  The clergy were present at all times, from Fr. Len and Fr. Tom helping with shredding (and cleaning up) during the turkey pull as well as Fr. Bob and Fr. Tom serving meals in the Park all day.  Our SJE staff also put in countless hours.  Tricia Schwarz assisted with communication and coordination.  Ovidio and Jesus, our tremendous Facilities staff, worked nearly around the clock all week to ensure we were able to get the food safely in place and took care of just about every facet of the program.

And, most importantly, I want to thank my beautiful (inside and out) wife, Donna.  She took on this extremely complicated project last year, and she has made it flourish with her strengths in organization and execution as a full-time job.  I am so grateful to Donna for dedicating her life and our family to this effort and to our Parish Family every day.  I am one of the most blessed men on earth to have a soulmate who is also my partner in serving our faith and our love at the same time.

God Bless you all for all your continued support and service!

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