By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — As the aroma of turkey and all the trimmings of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner wafted over Denning Hall at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, students scurried to make sure everything was ready for the annual senior meal.
The dinner traditionally is served the Thursday before Thanksgiving. This year’s earlier date and change in weekdays didn’t deter parishioners and guests from nearby Accordius Health at St. Mary nursing home.
As the 90 or so guests entered the hall, students held open the doors, offered to take attendees’ coats and assisted them in finding seats. First- and second-graders decorated placemats and made “turkey notes” for their guests. Another group of students poured water and coffee upon their guests’ request.
Father Tony Herold, the parish’s pastor, welcomed those in attendance for supporting the school. The students “are here to serve and entertain you.” After a blessing, he told the seniors that he hoped their hearts would be filled with gratitude and that they would enjoy their meal.
Principal Julie Delaney also thanked the gathering for their support. “Our students are here to help carry your plates and get whatever you need.” Fifth-graders served the Thanksgiving meal, making sure the plates were full.
Esperanza “Hope” Salazar said she was thankful for the dinner. “We have belonged to this parish for a long time. We appreciate what they do for us. It is wonderful they invite the elderly.”
Delaney, who coordinates the effort, said the Thanksgiving tradition began more than 20 years ago. The meal has been cancelled just twice — once during an influenza outbreak in the Quad-City area and another time during church renovations.
Funds for the meal come from donations by families of fourth- and fifth-graders and the school’s budget. Parents also donate pies for the catered meal.
Afterwards, fourth-graders sang and people played Bingo. “What is a Catholic gathering without Bingo,” Delaney laughed.