‘We are all one’: One Table brings Aiken community together

November 23, 2018

Following events like Bloodies and Bagels and Blessing of the Hounds, friends and families turned out in full force downtown for One Table, one of Aiken’s largest community events.

The Alley was transformed into a massive outdoor dining area for the event, with row upon row of long tables and folding chairs set up so the community could come together as one for a Thanksgiving meal.

Aiken natives Rob and Kathy Cunningham have been attending the event for years.

“We love it,” Kathy said. “It’s one of the best things about Aiken.”

Betty Corley said she and her family have also attended One Table in the past.

“We’ve been coming here for two years,” Corley said.

One Table is serviced by a small army of volunteers who come from throughout the community. Lynne Sharpe, a volunteer coordinator, was moved to tears when she explained what One Table meant to her.

“We are all one,” Sharpe said. “It is family, and that’s another thing that’s evolved over the years. There was an assumption in the community many years ago that we were just feeding the poor, and that’s not what it is.”

One Table is a free event where anyone and everyone can receive a Thanksgiving meal. Sharpe pointed out how different people from all walks of life can be seen sitting down and eating together in The Alley during the event.

“It really is just about that love for your community and being a part of something bigger,” Sharpe said.

Aiken’s population is growing, and the amount of food consumed and donated to One Table is massive.

“I can’t tell you how much food it is,” Sharpe said. She said the event seems to get bigger each year.

They do know the number of turkeys. Volunteers told the Aiken Standard that 64 turkeys had been purchased for One Table and 30 had been donated this year.

As many as 1,800 people were served at last year’s One Table.

Much of the food is donated by local churches, organizations and individuals. Money donated goes toward buying turkeys and other supplies for next year’s dinner.

Each event is a learning experience for volunteers. This year, they ran out of mashed potatoes early, so they will be requesting extra donations of the side for next year.

Overall, One Table does more than provide a free meal; it builds Aiken’s sense of community and togetherness.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Maya Corbett, an Augusta native who was visiting family in Aiken. “I’ve never witnessed a town come together this way. I’m so thankful to be here. And that’s what this holiday is all about, isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about.”

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