LEWISTON — Thanksgiving smells wafted in the air of Farwell Elementary School on Monday night as third-graders served up a feast and helped themselves to a lesson about doing for others.

“Do you want some carrots?” asked Gabriel Warszawski, 8, who was in the serving line with a chorus of apron-clad pupils.

Students next to him each had food to dish out: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, carrots and peas.

Across the room, Jacob Boissonneault and Jared Cooper, both 8, and others staffed the pie line, serving up apple, pumpkin and pecan.

The feast was free to school community members, some of whom couldn’t afford their own Thanksgiving meals at home. There were two seatings, one at 4:30 p.m., another at 5:30.

As people entered the school, students greeted them with “Pay it Forward” tickets, asking that they in turn do something nice for someone.


The Thanksgiving dinner was the community service project of Farwell’s 52 third-graders, led by teachers Heather Bucklin and Joye Dostie.

Students did much of the planning, Bucklin said.

“We are hoping they get an understanding to be compassionate and think of others before themselves, community service and volunteerism,” Dostie said. “It’s helping them understand that, especially this season, not everybody is as fortunate as they are — to share goodwill without expecting anything back.”

Earlier this year, a Bates College student spoke to the children about community service and the Light Share Foundation, which helps students achieve good things. Students contacted the foundation and got a $500 grant. They also were given $500 from the Maine Family Credit Union, and donations from individuals, raising $1,200.

On Sunday and Monday, cafeteria workers, teachers and other volunteers cooked 15 turkeys. Students chopped vegetables, rolled plastic forks, spoons and knives into napkins. They created hand-decorated paper tablecloths and a large welcome banner.

During the weeks of preparation, students were taught that volunteering means doing whatever needs to be done without getting anything in return, their teachers said.


But students said they did get something back, a warm glow.

“It feels good, really good,” said Samantha Miller, 9. “It’s teaching you how you can help the community. Then when you learn how, you can do it again and again and again.”

Samantha helped cut carrots, potatoes and onions. “The onions literally make you cry,” she said.

Katherine Vollrath, 7, was “a table-setter.” She helped “so we can give a Thanksgiving dinner to others.” Some families don’t have as much as others, she said. “We should help them.”

Parents were impressed that the third-graders helped pull off the feast.

“We just moved here from Florida, just the two of us,” said Denika Dostie, motioning to her daughter, Ava Dostie, 6. “We don’t have any family here, so this is our Thanksgiving. We’re thankful for this.”


Ava said the turkey, potatoes and yeast rolls were “yummy.” Her mother said she was touched by the “pay it forward” tickets. “I think that’s a great model. It’s so good little kids are passing out those cards. It puts me in a festive mood.”

As people ate, students came around the room passing out bottled water. In the school library, winter clothing was given to families.

Sarah and Hannah Chaput and their mother, Pamela Chaput, said the meal was delicious. “It’s really nice they wrote to Light Share,” said sixth-grader Hannah. “We’re doing it, too. We’re sending lunches home to kids who don’t have food over the weekend.”

Noah Warszawski, the father of the carrot-server, said he was pleased that his son was helping.

“This time of year, it’s an awesome thing to do,” Warszawski said. “It shows them a lot about giving back.”


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