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Cook helps serve free holiday meals in Waynesboro

November 27, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- It was a man named Cook who commanded the kitchen Thursday at Waynesboro Area Human Services' free meal.

Rick Cook has led the kitchen volunteers for 17 years as they prepare and serve turkey, ham, filling, green beans, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.

"I just enjoy doing it. I really do," said Cook, of Waynesboro.

Cook and Jane Birt, director of the agency, expected to give away more than 250 dine-in and delivery meals. They had 12 turkeys and six hams ready for the occasion.

"We go through cases of potatoes, sweet potatoes and sauerkraut," Cook said.

"I've been here every year they had it," said Pat O'Toole of Waynesboro. "The cooks are the best."

Birt said more than 50 volunteers turned out to help at the dinner, which was co-sponsored by the Waynesboro Area Fellowship of Churches. She described the number of calls from volunteers as overwhelming.

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"In the last three weeks, we've had to turn them away and they're heartbroken," Birt said.

Planning for the dinner starts in early summer, when Birt calls Cook to ask him to return. Letters for donations from clubs and churches are mailed in October.

"It's a lot of organization," Birt said, explaining that the lunch comes at a time when the agency also is coordinating three Christmas programs.

While Birt worries perennially that servers will run out of food, it never has happened.

"It grows each year, especially this year with (additional) need," she said.

"It's for anyone," Cook said. "Maybe they're by themselves and want to come in for the fellowship."

"Their food is always very delicious," said Linda Sprow of Waynesboro. "It's just out of the world."

Sprow and Jeffrey Paul, also of Waynesboro, went to the dinner for their third year. They especially like the ham and turkey.

O'Toole added three extra servings of gravy to his food, referring to it as "the grease" each time.

"'The grease' is fine," he said.

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