Volunteers at Praise Assembly of God Church assemble 100 Thanksgiving baskets for its 18th annual Thanksgiving Giveaway held Saturday. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — For Pastor Justin Thacker, giving away Thanksgiving dinners is his favorite event his church does all year.

On Saturday morning, the 18th annual Thanksgiving Giveaway furnished 100 River Valley families with a turkey and other foods, and the makings for a dessert. The ingredients were paid for by donations and distributed on River Street by volunteers from Praise Assembly of God Church at 89 Congress St.

“Without question, this task could not be completed unless we had wonderful and hardworking volunteers,” he said. They put the baskets together Thursday morning and handed them out outdoors at specific times “to keep the crowd down” during the pandemic.

Allen Albanesi, 75, of Mexico receives a basket of food at the 18th annual Thanksgiving Giveaway by Praise Assembly of God Church in Rumford. Volunteers Cathy Lizotte, center, and Carol Daigle, offered a prayer for him as well. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Thanks to community donations, some from as far away as Maryland and California, this year’s giveaway was paid for by Oct. 1, Thacker said.

“And the food is more expensive than it was a year ago,” he noted.

“When I think of 18 years, it feels like we just started,” he said. “Thanksgiving is a time for us to count all of our blessings, but also to come together as a community and ensure that as many people as possible, including children, have a terrific Thanksgiving.”

Donations for next year can be made to Praise Assembly of God Church (write “Thanksgiving Giveaway” on the memo line), P.O. Box 269, Rumford, ME 04276. Donations also may be brought to the church during office hours. The office number is 207-364-3856.

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