Legacy of community thankfulness lives on in Five Days of Thanksgiving in Kutztown

Patriot photos by Roxanne Richardson Carol Yoder, Mertztown, with her daughters, (left) Brenda Greis, Krumsville, and (right) Christina Feinour, Walnutport.
Patriot photos by Roxanne Richardson Entertaining during St. John's U.C.C. Kutztown's Thanksgiving dinner.

Five Days of Thanksgiving honored the late Dr. Arnold Newman featuring events to carry on Newman’s legacy of community thankfulness.

The five days of events planned by Kutztown University and local ministriesculminated with a turkey feast, held every year for more than 10 years at St. John’s U.C.C. in Kutztown.

The events prior to Thursday’s dinner, featured KU’s Brass Choir and Jazz Combo, a collection of clothes and food at St. Paul’s U.C.C. in Kutztown, and a special skit put on by Jerry Silberman, vice president of administration and finance at KU. The skit was held at the Kutztown Tavern and even though there were weather warnings of freezing rain, Silberman’s performance packed in a crowd of 30 people. Accompanying the play was music performed by Dave Miller. Instead of a skit about finance, Silberman decided to keep in theme with the holiday.

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“I was a pilgrim from 300 years ago and I traveled forward in time to modern day Kutztown and met my family of the future,” said Silberman. “As part of this deal, I was dressed up in full pilgrim regalia.”

Silberman’s skit was a clash of the cultures. The pilgrim sat down expecting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with his family, but what he encountered was his wife planning a shopping trip, his daughter texting with her friends, and his son playing video games. It was a culture shock. Silberman also read George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation from 1789 and related personal experiences involving Thanksgiving.

“It’s important to spend time with family and maybe avoid some of the distractions that we’re faced with in the current day,” said Silberman.

Silberman’s play set the stage for the following day when St. John’s U.C.C., Kutztown, held its annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

“It’s an annual event that the community of Kutztown has done for numerous amount of years. It’s an awesome thing to see the community come together. The churches and all the local businesses pitch in and we have tons of volunteers from all over the place,” said Robin Telepchak, volunteer. “We do this once a year; we help people who are less fortunate; they come in, they eat, they could take a care package home. We provide Meals On Wheels.”

Joanne Carroll, member of St. John’s U.C.C. in Kutztown, said they tried to figure out how many years they’ve been preparing the holiday meal and came up with 10 to 15 years. She said it began with a member who wanted to make more of the holiday by reaching out to the community as a whole.

“She decided why don’t we have a family gathering here of people who, like us, our kids are all married and have other families to go to,” said Carroll. “We usually get about 80 people.”

Carol Yoder, Mertztown, doesn’t like to cook anymore either since her daughters left home and her husband passed.

“It’s a place to go with my girls,” said Yoder.

Yoder said she came eight years ago when her husband was with her, but even though her family has separated, she and her daughters look forward to getting together for the Thanksgiving dinner at St. John’s U.C.C.

Shirley Metthias, Kutztown, was waiting for her daughter to join her for Thanksgiving dinner. For the past three years, Metthias and her family have gathered at St. John’s for their holiday dinner. Metthias said she loves the food and enjoys shopping there for bargains from tables of donated goods.

“They really welcome people. They want to be friendly to the people in town or out of town,” said Metthias.

Shirley Bogert, Fleetwood, sat with her friend, Marion Pieller, Kutztown. Although Bogert has places she could go, she prefers to eat at St. John’s.

“Everything’s delicious,” said Pieller, but in unison, both Pieller and Bogert added, “We don’t have to cook.”

In addition to the turkey and all that goes with it, there was a table filled with homemade desserts. One of the volunteers, Nathan Hammes, 10, stayed to help with his mom after she dropped off pies she had made.

“It means a lot because I’ve been to this church forever and ever, so I know a lot of people that are here and I get to serve them food and stuff,” said Hammes.

“It’s a good reach out to the community. I attend church regularly so I like to see churches reach out and be a part of the community,” said Corporal Brian Klouser, Kutztown Borough Police.