All the fixings: Harbor Homes serves Thanksgiving fare

Staff photo by Hannah LaClaire Members of the community were given a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Harbor Homes Tuesday

NASHUA – More than 350 people gathered at Harbor Homes Tuesday afternoon to celebrate everything they had to be thankful for (whether it was for much, or for little) and shared a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

The Harbor Homes Thanksgiving has been a staple for the community’s families in need for 17 years.

“(This is) an amazing spread of goodwill and food,” Peter Kelleher, president and CEO of Harbor Homes said, welcoming people to the event. “It reminds us we have many many things to be thankful for.”

People came out in droves, not just for the meal, but also to help serve it.

“It’s a wonderful day of fellowship,” Mary Tamposi, a Harbor Homes staff member said.

“We have more volunteers than we have jobs to do.”

Among those volunteers were Sen. Maggie Hassan, Gov. Chris Sununu and Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess.

Hassan, who manned the mashed potato station for about an hour, said this is her fifth or sixth year volunteering and that sometimes people approached her about a state issue, but largely, “the excitement and thankfulness is palpable.”

“I love what the event says about Nashua as a community,” she said.

Hassan is not alone in that assessment, Kelleher said.

“Since the beginning, people have felt very moved to participate. They walk away with a feeling of warmth and connectedness and a greater understanding of what others might be going through,” he said. “It’s the happiest day of the year for us.”

Much like mouths to feed and volunteers to assist, organizers also had no shortage of food, with a long list of vendors who donated potatoes, stuffing, green beans, rolls and more.

The Lafayette Club even donated 50 turkeys, which arrived already cooked and carved, needing only to be warmed.

The 51st turkey, the one that escaped, was Naomi Moody, a board member who dresses up in a handmade, brightly colored turkey costume complete with tambourine to greet people every year. The costume, which is made primarily of felt and feathers, proudly displays a nametag that reads “#1 Turkey Bird.” It has been refreshed, adding new pieces every once in awhile, she said, but for the most part, the costume is as good as new, a carryover from when she was a teacher.

Moody said she is particularly dedicated to Harbor Homes because of the “wonderful job” they did in helping her son a number of years ago.

While Moody’s costume and the spirit of the event have changed little over the last 17 years, Kelleher said, this year’s crowd was a little different than what they have seen before.

“In years past, it’s been more people who are struggling with homelessness or struggling with substance use,” he said, “(but this year) there have been more people who have come through the safe stations and put themselves on the path of recovery and want to give back.”

As people helped themselves to pumpkin pie and brownies while the Hollis Brookline High School Jazz Band played, volunteers also handed out bags of toiletries for men and women, prayer shawls and warm socks for the colder months.

It was the perfect time to “Reflect on our blessings and remind ourselves that we are part of a larger community,” Kelleher said.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com