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From left, Irene Norris of Port Royal, Peg Dale of Dataw Island, and Cindy Turnbull of Beaufort chop apples and then put them into a bowl filled with lemon juice and water to keep them from turning brown before they are used for the Parish Church of St. Helena’s 43rd annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Monday afternoon at the church’s Parish Hall. The dinner will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday and is free to the public. Delayna Earley/The Island News

A sense of community

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Good food, fellowship to be found at local community Thanksgiving dinners

By Delayna Earley

If you are in need of a hot, homemade meal and some good company on Thanksgiving Day, head on over to the Parish Church of St. Helena.

The church will be holding their 43rd annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 24, starting at 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the church’s Parish Hall at 507 Newcastle Street in Downtown Beaufort.

Community volunteers gathered in the Parish Hall on Monday, Nov. 21, to begin prepping and chopping the vegetables and fruit for the side dishes that will be prepared later this week.

Jai Dowell, Director of Local Missions with the church, said that they are expecting to serve more than 1,000 people at this year’s event.

“The past few years we haven’t had as many come out due to COVID, but this year people are getting out, so we are expecting more. Between that and how expensive food is right now, we are expecting a lot of people,” Dowell said.

The event is put together by a committee of volunteers who begin organizing the event several months in advance and it relies primarily on donations of food from members in the community.

Members of the community volunteer to cook the turkeys in their homes to be delivered to the church closer to the day, while other volunteers cook trays of mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and stuffing in the church’s kitchens.

Jim Cato, a deacon of the church, said that the Thanksgiving meal today is much different than how it started 43 years ago.

“When the church initially started this, it was more of a potluck where everyone brought a covered dish to share,” Cato said about the event. “After a few years, we decided to change things around to the way it is now because we were serving so many people.”

The church will be serving meals to people who want to eat there, but they also have take-away and delivery options as well for those who cannot make it to the meal.

The event is open to everyone and will begin directly following the 10 a.m. service in the church.

For more information or to find out how to reserve a take-away or delivery meal go to www.sthelenas1712.org or by calling the church at 843-522-1712.

Hemingway’s Bistro and Panini’s in downtown Beaufort are also going to be hosting their 29th annual Orphans & Strays Thanksgiving Dinner.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Hemingway’s Bistro and will continue throughout the afternoon.

The entrées will be provided by Hemingway’s Bistro and Panini’s, but they invite guests to bring a side dish to share for the potluck meal. But it is fine to come empty-handed as well.

The dinner is free to the public.

Campfire Tyler, a local musician, has also volunteered to provide music during the event.

The full bar at Hemingway’s Bistro will also be open during the meal until 1:30 a.m.

If neither of the free community Thanksgiving meals excite you, Madison’s will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Brody’s Bar and Grill will close at 4 p.m.


Delayna Earley lives in Beaufort with her husband, two children and Jack Russell. She spent six years  as a videographer and photographer for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette before leaving the Lowcountry in 2018. After freelancing in Myrtle Beach and Virginia, she joined The Island News when she moved back to Beaufort in 2022. She can be reached at delayna.theislandnews@gmail.com.

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