COVID-inspired Thanksgiving project continues to grow
EAGLE LAKE, Maine — While many once successful endeavors were stymied or destroyed by the emergence of COVID, one giving project in northern Maine founded during the pandemic continues to grow.
The Eagle Lake non-profit All Things Become New provided approximately 500 free Thanksgiving meals this year to anyone in the St. John Valley who asked for them.
“I believe a healthy community is a giving community; we live in a very healthy community,” project co-founder Suzanne Morneault said.
The project sprung out of the isolation induced by COVID-19 in 2020. Suzanne Morneault and her daughter Mindy Forino wanted to provide the holiday meals to those who were especially affected by being homebound, such as those who are elderly, food insecure or live alone.
That year volunteers cooked, packaged and delivered 278 traditional turkey dinners. Last year 30 volunteers provided 380 meals. This Thanksgiving, the number of volunteers had doubled to 60 with meals being served in 11 towns in the St. John Valley from Quimby to Allagash.
“One guy told me that it’s the one day all year where he feels like he has a family,” Suzanne Morneault said.
All Things Become New provided the food, which included $1,400 of turkey breast purchased from Graves Shop ‘n Save in Presque Isle and cooked. GB and D Farms of Fort Kent donated 200 pounds of potatoes and volunteers Tom Pinette and Pat Fournier baked homemade buns fresh that day.
One volunteer said helping with the Thanksgiving meals left her heart feeling full.
“I delivered 24 meals of happiness to people who live in my hometown,” she said.
“They shared with us how our meal brings them hope, and reminds them of their childhood when families ate a big Thanksgiving meal,” Suzanne Morenault said.
Morneault and Forino founded All Things Become New after Forino, an award-winning soccer goalie, incurred a traumatic brain injury during a college soccer game in 2010.
The mission of All Things Become New is to provide education about traumatic brain injuries and facilitate support groups for people affected by them.