CLINTON TWP., NJ — Chabad of Hunterdon County will be hosting its sixth annual Thanksgiving Community Volunteering program.

On Sunday, Nov. 17, from 5 to 7 p.m., Chabad will have about 30 volunteers to help prepare, cook and pack food to be served and delivered on Thanksgiving throughout Hunterdon County.

Chabad will be hosting the residents and staff of The Freedom House — a local residential treatment facility for men struggling with addiction issues — on Thanksgiving Day, when volunteers will play host and serve a four-course meal with all the trimmings. 

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“We want everyone to feel part of this day," said Rabbi Eli Kornfeld. "If it’s meaningful for them, it’s important for an organization like ours to make sure that those who are less fortunate can be lifted up. They should be able to be lifted up in the joys of their community,”

Traci Jacob is looking forward to Thanksgiving, even though she grapples with two autoimmune diseases and has neck surgery scheduled for right after the holiday.

Fortunately, the 49-year-old will be able to host a meal with her parents and a friend on Thursday because of Chabad. The rabbi, his wife Rachel andthe  volunteers will prepare and deliver a cooked kosher turkey— along with the usual sides of stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans—to Jacob and others who are homebound.

Jacob, who is on disability and received a meal last year, says, “it makes it a lot easier to bring everyone together. You don’t have to worry about cooking. You don’t have that worry of going out to buy food for the meal, spending money. You have the rabbi and everyone helping you.”

“People come out in droves to get their hands dirty — to cook, to prepare, to cut, to peel, to donat e— and I think that’s a big part of this," said the rabbi. "Bringing the community together, bringing those that can offer help with those that need it.”

 “This will be the fourth time that Chabad has hosted the meal," said Freedom House executive director Glenn King. "People around the table last year were so appreciative that they stood up and said what they were thankful for."

interestingly, “There was not a disparity (between residents and volunteers) in the expression of gratitude,"  King said. " People seemed to be grateful for some of the same things.”

King notes another important factor: that neither the rabbi nor the volunteers seem to judge residents of Freedom House, which puts everyone at ease.

Kornfeld notes that this year’s meal will be especially important in the midst of concerns about racism and anti-Semitism in the United States. “The desperate hunger for positivity, for kindness, for respect for others is so needed in our country right now, to bridge divides and to unite people with acts of goodness,” he said.

Chabad CTeen chapter, directed by Rabbi Avraham Posner, will participate in the Thanksgiving volunteering. Local teens will make signs and decorations that make the guests feel at home and welcomed at Chabad for the dinner.

To request a Thanksgiving dinner for someone in need, to volunteer or to make a contribution for the meals, contact Chabad of Hunterdon County.