- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2016

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) - Looking around the Eagles Hall on Park Street Thursday afternoon, Karen Curtis was surrounded by familiar faces.

Five generations of her family pitched in to provide turkey and all the fixings during their annual holiday feast.

Open to all in the community, the Curtis Family Thanksgiving takes over the top floor of the Eagles building each November. Karen’s husband, Mark Curtis, launched the tradition with friends 28 years ago.

The two were joined this year by their children and grandchildren, as well as a great grandson and Karen’s mother, Bebe Swanecamp, who pitches in to prepare dozens of pies.

But as she surveyed the room, Curtis picked out many others who became her friends over the years. There were lanky teenagers who began coming when they were only a few feet tall. There were seniors in need of companionship, and those in need of a filling meal.

And scores of volunteers returned, carrying on the tradition of mashing potatoes, scooping gravy and serving pies. Curtis was especially grateful that after a long absence, Joseph Keefe, a Framingham firefighter who was seriously injured in a 2013 motorcycle accident, was again among her guests. She called his return a “Thanksgiving miracle.”

“That brought me to tears,” she said.

Hundreds gathered Thursday to break bread with Karen Curtis and her family, taking part in one of the town’s longest-running holiday events. Organizers expected to serve more than 2,000 meals, counting both the guests who dined at the Eagles Hall from 12-6 p.m. and several hundred more meals that were delivered throughout the region.

“The whole thing behind it for them is that nobody should be alone on Thanksgiving, and everybody should have something to eat,” coordinator Diane Lynch said, explaining the spirit that has motivated the Curtis family for nearly three decades.

Preparations for the massive feast began with a “peeling party” Wednesday night. Groups such as the Girl Scouts and Framingham hockey team and swim teams peeled potatoes, chopped 300 pounds of onions and prepared other ingredients.

Then on Thursday morning, volunteers fanned out across the region, delivering some 600 meals to seniors and others suggested by Meals on Wheels, the Framingham Housing Authority and other organizations. Turkey dinners were transported as far away as Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway and Marlborough.

In the afternoon, dining tables filled the Eagles Hall, which was open to anyone who needed a meal, or simply wanted to spend time with others. Kelly Hagerty, the town’s community intervention specialist, was on hand this year giving out gift bags of socks, gloves, first aid kits and other items provided by Renewal by Andersen.

Karen Curtis said she sees the needs in the community each day while working in a local state unemployment office. Her husband also reaches out to those in need throughout the year at the Pearl Street Cupboard and Cafe, where he prepares meals for the community kitchen Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Karen Curtis said the annual Thanksgiving meal helps not only those who are hungry, but also those who want to give back.

“There’s a need,” Curtis said. “There’s a need for the people who eat, but more than anything, there’s a need for the town of Framingham and surrounding towns that want to reach out and help and don’t know how. They want to give back.”

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Information from: MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, Mass.), https://www.metrowestdailynews.com

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