Annual meal brings out best in community

On Tuesday, more than 350 people flocked to Harbor Homes in Nashua for an annual tradition that is almost as anticipated as Thanksgiving Day itself.

The city institution’s Thanksgiving meal – a traditional affair with mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing green beans and rolls – was a true community event, drawing in not only those looking to give thanks and fill their bellies, but also the many volunteers who helped make the meal a success.

The event even drew out several public figures, including Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, U.S. Sen.Maggie Hassan and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.

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

We do, too. The meal serves as a way for those less fortunate to have a nice meal and also for those who may be alone this holiday season to be able to enjoy some fellowship and fun.

“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,” said Peter Kelleher, CEO of Harbor Homes. “It’s the happiest day of the year for us.”

Making the entire day possible – in addition to the many volunteers and Harbor Homes – was the Lafayette Club, who donated 50 turkeys.

“In years past, it’s been more people who are struggling with homelessness or struggling with substance use, (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,” Kelleher said.