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Man Hosts A Free Thanksgiving Dinner for All Who RSVP

For his first Thanksgiving alone in 1985, Scott Macaulay was thinking that he would have to heat up a frozen turkey dinner and turn on a football game to stifle the silence in his apartment. With his parents recently divorced and “nobody talking to anybody,” he said, “I was looking at a pretty rotten Thanksgiving. And I absolutely hate to eat alone.”

Then Macaulay had an idea: What if he took out an ad in the paper and invited 12 strangers to join him for Thanksgiving dinner? It seemed like a manageable number to host at the First Baptist Church he attended—and, yeah, it was a little crazy, but it had to be better than being lonely.

Since those 12 strangers gathered around his table for turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie 33 years ago, Macaulay has made his free feast an annual event. Through the years, he has fed plenty of widows, widowers, homeless people, and college kids who can’t make it home.

One year an elderly woman paid $200 for an ambulance to drive her to the church from her nursing home. She arrived decked out in fancy clothes and said she hadn’t been out in seven years. She cried when dinner was over. Infants have spent their first Thanksgiving with Macaulay, and more than a few elderly people have sat down for their last.

Because Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without giving thanks, Macaulay always asks people to write what they’re thankful for on a slip of paper and leave their thoughts in a basket. He saves the submissions and reads them throughout the year, long after the table has been cleared and the dishes washed.

“Sometimes, they’re grateful they no longer have cancer or that they finally found a job or have a place to live,” he said. “One year, a guy wrote that he was thankful his son was speaking to him again. That one was a tear-jerker.”

Geoff Shanklin, 65, lives alone and has attended every dinner since the tradition began. He said, “He really enjoys passing it on to lonely people in Melrose. For people like me with nowhere to go, Scott is family.”

Source: Cathy Free, “This man hosts a free Thanksgiving dinner for all who RSVP. It’s his 33rd year,” Washington Post (11-19-18)

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