ALEXANDRIA,VA- What does Thanksgiving mean to you? There are so many memories-in-waiting during the holiday season, and Thursday, Nov. 28, will mark the sixth annual Alexandria Gratitude Table at Meade Memorial Episcopal Church. The free meal is the only one of its kind in the city, and is made possible by churches, volunteers, and charitable organizations.
“We always have room. We’ve never gotten close to turning people away,” said Matthew Ian Gillette, who came up with the idea for the annual meal. “It’s a festive atmosphere. It’s not just about putting something on a plate, but more about having a place where people can feel like they have a sense of community.”
Gillette wears many hats in the Alexandria, including as the co-chair of Hunger Free Alexandria, executive director of Restore Alexandria, and as a director at the National Community Church in Potomac Yard. He was able to get support for the effort from Elevate Church, the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, Volunteer Alexandria, and Meade Memorial.
“At the end of the day, everybody has a desire to be known and to know,” Gillette said. “There are a lot of opportunities for people to go for help, but often they don’t get there because there is no relationship connection.”
The meal, which is attended by hundreds, includes all the trimmings possible, with 11 turkeys and sides from Old Country Buffet, and homemade offerings from dozens of volunteers.
Interested in giving or donating to the Alexandria Gratitude Table? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.