EUGENE, Ore. -- The Whiteaker Community Dinner may be happening this year after all – but under new leadership.
After organizers of the dinner announced this month the 31-year-old tradition was coming to an end, Whiteaker resident John Skirving said he wanted to bring it back.
“The main reason I’m doing this is because the community has given so much to me, now it’s my chance to give something back,” Skirving said.
Skirving said numerous community partners and organizations are willing and eager to host the event on Thanksgiving, just like in years past.
“We have several commercial kitchens that have offered their services or opened up their door to us,” Skirving said.
Beverly Farfan, who organized the former dinner for more than two decades, said earlier this week the dinner was ending for several reasons, partly because of the coronavirus pandemic and partly because organizers were simply getting older.
But now, residents and community groups are banding together to pick up where the former organizers of the dinner left off.
Skirving said many of the details are still being worked out, but they plan to host a smaller, pandemic-friendly event on Thanksgiving for between 500 and 1,500 people. The former Whiteaker Community Dinner averaged around 2,400 community members each year.
“Every person involved with this is going to be masked," Skirving said. "There are temperatures checked regularly and charted. We don’t want this to be a super spreader."
Skirving said he himself was homeless when he arrived in the neighborhood about 15 years ago, and organizing the dinner is one way he can give back. In addition to the community dinner on Thanksgiving, plans are in place to distribute packaged Thanksgiving meals to the unhoused.
Skirving also plans to create a non-profit and continue to hold the Thanksgiving dinner and other events each year.
A location and time for this year's dinner has not been determined. If you would like to help out, donate or volunteer, contact Skirving through email here.