The Bread of Life held its annual “Don’t Be Alone on Thanksgiving Day” dinner event in Malden High School’s cafeteria on Thanksgiving day.
Gabriella Stelmack, Bread of Life’s executive producer, said the event was organized in the early 1990s “for people who would be alone, for [the] elderly, people who were living alone, and people who are homeless and are on the street.”
“It was an idea that we [had] because normally year-round, we have a congregate meal and a sitdown meal for [everyone], ” Stelmack said. "That’s how Bread of Life started.”
If you see her tomorrow, please give thanks as well as to everyone involved with @breadmalden for hosting the Annual “Don’t Be Alone on Thanksgiving Day” dinner at MHS! pic.twitter.com/A5zAu8klPo— Mayor Christenson (@MayorOfMalden) November 24, 2021
“The holiday meal was to do something special on the holiday and I think one of the main reasons we started it was because Mystic Valley Elder Services had approached us about doing deliveries to their consumers because they don’t have Meals on Wheels,” Stelmack added.
So now, they have a version of Meals on Wheels, a frozen dinner prepared and packaged the night before Thanksgiving. The idea is that on Thanksgiving Day, they get a visit from someone personally delivering a home-cooked meal.
“We had years of people who just wanted to not feel alone and wanted to sit and meet neighbors,” Stelmack said. “People here would come with somebody for their delicious meal with all the fixings, so it’s just neighbor helping neighbor.”
Every year Tim Rufo collects donations from friends (the “Cutie Pies”) and delivers to Bread of Life for our Thanksgiving meal.
60 pies; 40 apple, 20 pumpkin, plus a $1,100 donation!
We give thanks to our wonderful community for the amazing support! #thankfulandblessed pic.twitter.com/lmv8A5e76M— Bread of Life (@breadmalden) November 25, 2021
“During the pandemic, we knew no one could get together and I think that’s why we had such a good turnout. I’d say the turnout was good or better than it has been in some years before the pandemic,” said Stelmack. In previous years, Bread of Life delivered up to 500 Thanksgiving meals. This year, Stelmack said they delivered 702. She added that “I think people were saying some people still wanted to avoid contact, older people with pre existing medical conditions,” and as a result, “ they wanted to have the meal delivered instead of going out,” which is “why we did 200 more than usual.”
Siblings Piper and Simon Nichlos served food and helped clean up the tables for Bread of Life. The meals came with turkey, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and a bread roll.
“We think it seemed cool, especially because we don’t really have a super big Thanksgiving tradition in our family,” they said. “So we’re here with our family and it’s a nice activity to do with your family, helping out, giving back to your community, and being thankful.”
We’re set to welcome guests for a Thanksgiving feast at #Malden High School, thanks to volunteers who joined us cooking/donating food & getting all the fixings ready. We’re truly grateful to be a part of such caring community. Wishing everyone a peaceful day. Happy Thanksgiving❤️ pic.twitter.com/Q7ZhXCxleS— Bread of Life (@breadmalden) November 25, 2021
To learn more about the Bread of Life and what they do, visit http://www.breadoflifemalden.org/