Thursday November 16, 2017
For close to three decades, the downtown Burlington bistro Sweetwaters has opened their doors to offer a free dinner and coat drive on Thanksgiving Day. The annual event serves over 1,000 Vermonters each year. Many guests are in need financially, some are students who can’t get home for the holidays, and others have recently lost family members and friends. According to Sweetwaters, a common purpose amongst everyone at the event, including volunteers, is the feeling of togetherness and community.
“Our Thanksgiving Day gathering has become a cherished tradition for many volunteers and guests. We are proud to be celebrating our 28th year welcoming guests in for Thanksgiving dinner, great conversation, and good laughs,” states Sweetwater’s owner David Melincoff.
The day begins with a coat giveaway, supported by the Windjammer/Best Western Group, for those in need. Typically, a line forms at 8 a.m., ending around 11 a.m. with over 1,000 men’s, women’s, and children’s coats being given away. The Thanksgiving dinner is served beginning 10 a.m.
Sweetwaters gets over 100 volunteers throughout Thanksgiving Day who serve, cook and clean. Many of them have been volunteering for years, and now do so with their kids and other family members. Other volunteers include those who in the past were guests and remember how it feels to be in need and now have the desire to give back. The restaurant reports that this year’s volunteer quota has been filled. However, donations of baked goods, such as pies, cookies, and cakes, are always welcome starting the Tuesday before Thanksgiving right up until Thanksgiving morning. No need to call, just stop by Sweetwaters.
Donate clean winter coats at the Windjammer restaurant or, on the same premises, the Best Western Hotel seven days a week, 24 hours a day, up to Monday, November 20. Coats can also be dropped off at Sweetwaters Restaurant from Monday through Wednesday, November 20 to 22. Please try to avoid drop-offs during the middle of lunch and dinner service times. Especially in need are extra-large size coats for men and women, the warmer the better.