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For 33 Years, This Man Has Been Hosting Free Thanksgiving Dinner For Strangers


Thirty-three years ago, one man in Massachusetts was getting ready to suffer through a quiet and lonely Thanksgiving. Instead, he decided to invite others to join him for the holidays. Decades later, it’s become a timeless tradition that he plans to carry on for the rest of his life.

Alone For The Holidays

In 1985, Scott Macaulay was dreading spending his first Thanksgiving alone. His parents had recently split up, and no one in the family wanted to talk to anybody, let alone have dinner together. He himself was divorced, so he had no spouse to spend the holiday with. “I was looking at a pretty rotten Thanksgiving, and I absolutely hate to eat alone,” Scott admitted in an interview.

Daniel DeMaina / Patch

Instead of moping, Scott came up with a crazy idea. He could invite strangers to have Thanksgiving dinner with him at his church. “I knew that I couldn’t be the only one in this situation,” he said. “There had to be at least a dozen people out there who didn’t want to spend Thanksgiving Day alone.” So he took out an ad in his local newspaper and invited 12 strangers to join him for the holiday. It was a wild idea, but 12 strangers came. It soon would turn into a yearly tradition.

An Annual Feast

Since that first Thanksgiving dinner, Scott has kept this great tradition alive. Every year, he sends out an invite through the paper inviting people to make a reservation by calling his office phone number. He does all of the grocery shopping, which can cost over $1,000 for this grand feast. However, he’s happy to do it and hosts the event in the basement at Green Street Baptist Church in Melrose, Massachusetts.

Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

Not only does Scott provide the food, but he also sets up the basement to look like an actual home. The man brings in sofas, recliners, rugs, and even a few fake fireplaces to make the basement cozier. Every year, 60 to 100 people show up to enjoy the festivities. “This isn’t about the food, though,” Scott shared. “It’s about having a place to go. Silence is unbearable, especially on Thanksgiving. My goal is always to replicate the feeling of having a nice dinner in somebody’s home.”

Making An Impact

The event has definitely had positive outcomes for hundreds of people. One year, an elderly woman even paid $200 for an ambulance to drive her to the church from her nursing home. She arrived wearing fancy clothes and admitted to Scott that she hadn’t been out in seven years. She cried tears of joy when dinner was over.

Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

Even Scott’s divorced parents showed up one year, much to Scott’s surprise. His mother was dying of cancer, but she made amends with her ex-husband before she passed. Scott’s own ex-wife has also come for dinner with her new husband, offering to play the piano while everyone ate. So this fantastic annual Thanksgiving dinner really does bring all kinds of people together even in an unconventional way.

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