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Food, Fun and Friends at Market East

Heather Redfern
SEPTA Press Officer

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and friends; to celebrate one's good fortune and blessings. Unfortunately, some members of the Greater Philadelphia region will be alone this Thanksgiving, without a special meal and acquaintances to share the good feelings the holiday brings.

On November 18, SEPTA opened the doors of Market East Station for an early Thanksgiving dinner for more than 200 older Philadelphians, some who otherwise might not have a holiday celebration. The guests, invited by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), enjoyed turkey dinner with all of the fixings and pie, donated by many Reading Terminal Market vendors and arranged by Marion "Tootsie Iovine" D'Ambrosio, one of the Reading Terminal merchants. The verdict on the dinner was unanimous: "It's hot and delicious" was the popular response at all of the guests' tables.

PCA, a nationally recognized Area Agency on Aging, has hosted the Thanksgiving dinner since 2000. The event is always welcomed by the seniors in attendance. "I am thankful I am able to come for fellowship and share blessings with others," said West Philadelphia resident Rose Faucett. "It's wonderful to mingle with the seniors and meet new friends," added Northeast Philadelphian Loretta Gaither. In addition to the camaraderie and delicious food, Ms. Gaither also enjoyed the music provided by DJ Dave Rotan - she had a hard time staying off of the dance floor.

This marked the first year SEPTA had hosted the holiday celebration and staff members including Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel, Assistant GMs Susan Van Buren, Ron Hopkins and Fran Kelly and members of their families were on hand to serve dinner to the special guests. "We are honored to have you here with us today," said Knueppel. "We can't wait to see you again next year." Also stepping in as wait staff were PCA Senior Vice President Holly Lange, Reading Terminal Market GM Paul Steinke and members of Girl Scout Troops 9455, 9488 and 9001.

Attendee Maxine Johnson is among those looking forward to next year. "This is always a fun time and a great way to get the holiday season started," she said.

SEPTA Deputy GM Jeff Knueppel was among Authority staff on hand to serve the guests of honor.

Assistant GM Susan Van Buren put heaping helpings of turkey, potatoes and other holiday favorites on guests' plates.

Miss Loretta Gaither (far left) enjoyed taking a spin on the dance floor.

Assistant GM Ron Hopkins delivered refreshments to guests' tables.

Guest Elmer Long, who was celebrating his birthday, hit the dance floor with PCA Senior Vice President Holly Lange.