Services at 10:30 am every Sunday
9451 Brooks Road South, Windsor CA 95492
Mail: P.O. Box 87, Windsor, CA 95492

Free Community Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners

Whether you want to help or just want to come, eat and meet neighbors, join us for two community-wide dinners here at WCUMC! We have plenty of food, so bring your friends and family. We will provide a full traditional turkey dinner, live music, activities for kids, and family fun!  If you’d like to help with cooking or serving food, set up or clean up, use our online volunteer sign up tool  or contact the church office.  In 2019 we are hosting BOTH the community Thanksgiving dinner in November and the Christmas dinner in December; you can sign up for the November event here and the December event here.

Organizing meetings for this year’s Windsor Care Network holiday dinners are be held at our church beginning in October. If you’d like to participate — especially as the point person for a team — or if you’d simply like to learn more about how the day will go, you are most welcome to attend.

Save time on the day you volunteer by filling out the release form.

A more complete description of the event is found in a previous year’s recap below.

Ed and Tavia Thanksgiving3 Thanksgiving 6 Thanksgiving 5 Thanksgiving 1 Thanksgiving 4 Edith and others on serving line IMG_0922 IMG_0938 IMG_0945 IMG_0935 Lynn and New Song volunteers on serving line IMG_0916 New Song band Windsor Times 1 Windsor Times 2

Windsor Community United Methodist Church, Serving Member Needs and Supporting Community Residents

Since 2010, The Windsor Community United Methodist Church has consistently supported the Windsor Care Network’s annual series of two free community holiday meals by offering its facility as the site for serving community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners without charge to upwards of 400 to 500 or more local residents in need. In the seven years since this program’s inception, more than 3,500 meals have been served at the WCUMC. When combined with the Christmas dinner attendance, the total has exceeded 7,000 meals.

These dinners include turkey and gravy, veggies, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad or coleslaw, rolls and butter, along with a variety of hot and cold beverages and dessert items. Meals are provided without charge to seniors, handicapped veterans, disabled and physically challenged residents, the homeless, members of the Hispanic community, as well as individuals and families at or below the poverty level. No qualifications or criteria must be met. Everyone is invited to join in this friendship and fellowship-building event.

More than 100 volunteers from WCUMC and other churches and organizations within the Town of Windsor help prepare and serve the food, staff the carryout desk and assist with home deliveries for those who cannot attend in person.  In 2016, some 275 people attended the dinner in person on a Saturday from noon to 3:00 p.m. In addition, another 110 carryout meals were sent out with caregivers or family members and 90 meals were delivered by car directly to homes by volunteers to those without local transportation or who cannot drive at night, for a total of 475 meals served in 2016.

The Windsor Care Network is a collaboration of five Windsor churches, of which WCUMC was a founding partner, supported by the Windsor Service Alliance Food Bank, the Redwood Empire Food Bank, the Town of Windsor and a number of service organizations in the community – with the major proportion of volunteers for the Thanksgiving dinner coming from WCUMC.

Much of the food served is donated and there are no overhead expenses.  Costs associated with some items, such as paper goods (plates, cups, bowl, flatware, chafing pans, etc.) and a few food items are covered by free-will donations and grants. This year’s cost per meal was a low $1.37 per plate.

This program is also designed to address the problem of loneliness. Volunteers are assigned to serve as conversation starters who interface with up to eight guests at each table, while also taking individual surveys to determine their needs and collecting feedback cards from visitors.

A number of musical groups sing seasonal favorites, while playing a variety of instruments, and orchestrating audience participation in a carol sing-along. This year’s program included WCUMC’s Vinyl Revival Singers, performing golden oldies from the 1940’s and 1950’s; Heather Cullen’s Community Children’s Choir doing renditions of traditional songs, and 20 young people playing guitars and singing classic tunes from the Living Color Music School led by guitar and recording artist Kathy Schallert.

There is a coloring center for small children staffed by WCUMC volunteers. Pastor Bayen gave the blessing at the start of the meal, greeted guests at each table and thanked them for coming.  This program is also seen as a way to encourage local residents to come to the WCUMC as visitors, to become members and enjoy the many activities sponsored by this institution for the betterment of the community.

This much-anticipated annual event is supported by the WCUMC’s agency agreement with the Redwood Empire Food Bank, a partnership that delivers a variety of healthy food items to several local sites each month that are re-distributed to needy individuals in the local community. Flyers announcing the free Thanksgiving free dinner, and the Christmas dinner to follow in December, are given to each family picking up food bags.

The Thanksgiving dinner — entering its eighth year — has become a holiday tradition that hundreds of local residents look forward to annually. It has received widespread coverage in local county media as an example of benevolence, compassion and caring (with articles in the Windsor Times and Press Democrat, The Sonoma County Gazette, plus announcements placed on community online bulletin boards and radio spot reports. News about this event is also carried on TV Channel 27 in Windsor and displayed on the electronic sign at the entrance to town.

Community leaders, including Town of Windsor council members and members of the County Board of Supervisors, along with the Windsor Police Department, the Windsor Unified School District, the Boys and Girls Club have attended these dinners and support this caring program.

Location is key to the success of any organization, business or church.  Being situated strategically at at 9451 Brooks Road South, across from the Windsor Middle School and Boys and Girls Club, WCUMC is in an excellent position to attract new members, visitors and guests. It is highly visible from Brooks Road and close to both Anglo and Hispanic sections of town on a major thoroughfare traveled by hundreds of residents as they access the onramp to southbound 101 and local convenience stores on both sides of the highway.

Experience has shown that town residents are familiar with this part of town and know where WCUMC is located.  Furthermore, the church is on a route served by town transit bus #66 with a stop immediately in front of the building.

I personally want to thank everyone who participated in this annual community dinner for an excellent job well done in preparing for and serving this annual meal. The entire process was conducted smoothly and without a hitch, and feedback from those attending (or receiving home delivered meals) was outstanding, positive and supportive.  Way to go team!

— Gary Quackenbush, Founder and Executive Director, The Windsor Care Network