Volunteers with Frank Veltri Thanksgiving Dinner to serve in-person meals again

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An annual Thanksgiving Day tradition in Charleston will be back to normal operations this year.

Volunteers with the 56th annual Frank Veltri Thanksgiving Day Dinner plan to serve meals in-person again Thursday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the last two years, a “Thanksgiving in a bag,” including all the ingredients to prepare a holiday meal, were delivered to residents in need and senior citizens.

Coordinator Angie Douglas said a warm meal means so much to people struggling to get by.

“Their face lights up. Some cry and some say how appreciative they are for this meal because it might be a day before they’ve eaten last if someone is not there to help them,” she said.

Douglas was with volunteers at St. George Orthodox Church in downtown Charleston Wednesday morning to help with food preparations.

“We are prepping our pies, our cranberry cups, dinner rolls, trimming ham upstairs and they’re also making all the stuffing which is going to be like 80-90 trays of stuffing,” she said.

About 2,000 meals total will be served. Around 1,400 of those meals will be delivered. A few hundred meals will be served at the church.

Dinner preparation includes 70 turkey roasts, 40 ham, about 60 pounds of sausage, 200 bags of stuffing, 97 pounds of gravy, 2,500 dinner rolls, 275 pies, 860 pounds of green beans, 362 pounds of cranberry sauce, among other food items.

Douglas said it’s a lot more convenient for some people to show up to the dinner in person.

Frank Veltri

“Yes, they love the bags of food, but it’s harder for them to get up and make all that food, so having a meal delivered to them already ready when they’re ready to eat is much easier on them,” she said.

Veltri, owner of the former Holley and Worthy hotels on Quarrier Street, started providing warm meals to low income residents in 1966.

When Veltri died in 2001, he left behind an endowment fund, managed by the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, to ensure the dinners would continue every year.

“We use the interest off of that every year to make this happen,” Douglas said. “It will continue to go on indefinitely as long as we have volunteers to plan it.”

The sit down meal runs from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.