HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WSAV) – COVID took away an annual holiday tradition on Hilton Head Island last year, but everyone is ready to enjoy the Community Thanksgiving Meal this year.

The meal started in 1999 with the idea that a few friends could get together and enjoy some fun and fellowship has now grown to a massive event where 1600 people came to dine in 2019.

Hudson’s Seafood staff has been preparing 82 turkeys and all the trimmings for this year’s feast.

20 people who work at Hudson’s will start working again at 5:30 am for the big event. They will be joined by 300 volunteers from around the area.

It’s all served family-style, where you and seated with your family and others at a table, to promote the fellowship of the Island and bring people from all walks of life together.

“It never feels like a soup kitchen or a handout for anyone who comes,” explains Hudson’s Seafood Owner Andrew Carmines. “We welcome everyone, in need or who just would like to meet and eat with others to the event. You have to see it to believe it. The best part is seeing how happy people are and seeing people from all different Socioeconomic demographics.””

“It’s just that camaraderie,” continued Carmines. “and I know that word is overused but just that sense of community. That familial feeling is what I love about this area and what I love about Hilton Head and I think this is that personified.”

Gloria LaCoe came up with the Community Thanksgiving idea back in 1999 and continues to help run the show even today. She gets concerned every year no one will show up. It’s only when she sees the line outside that she can breathe a sigh of relief and get down to work.

“What’s it going to be like when those doors open?”
“It’s going to be a powerful moment similar to me like the very first year when you didn’t know how many people were going to come,” said Gloria.

Everyone is welcome to come to the meal, which once again will be served family-style. COVID precautions will be taken to keep everyone safe.

The entire feast is free, but donations will also be accepted for Deep Well, Bluffton Self Help, and Second Helpings.

It runs from 11 am to 3 pm at Hudson’s Seafood on 1 Hudson rd on Hilton Head Island on Thanksgiving Day.