FLORENCE – 1Table returns to Mobile Plaza on Thursday, November 3 with the same philosophy observed before the pandemic arrived.
Each November organizers with 1Table Florence invite our community to share a meal together. No one is asking you to buy, bring, believe, vote for, or commit to anything! It is FREE Lunch for the whole community! There is no cost, no catch, no agenda! Just neighbors sharing a meal together at one very long table. You are invited to join everyone on November 3. A lunch of chicken and dressing, green beans, sweet potato casserole, cranberry chutney and banana pudding will be served, and music will be played.
The organizers of 1Table see the value of coming together to be reminded of the goodness in each of us, to sit across the table with someone whose path you may never otherwise cross. It’s a unique opportunity to be among hundreds of our
neighbors who meet new friends, call each other by name, and show up ready to belong.
“Some friends and I saw that Huntsville was putting on something similar in 2016, but it didn’t return the next year,” said Brittany Ashley, one of the organizers of the event. “So, we just said, let’s try it here. While we all know that one meal will not change the world, we can all appreciate the moment of community and joy to kick off the holiday season.”
According to Ashley, the first Shoals event took place in November of 2017 in perfect weather with 500 attending. The second-year saw freezing cold weather with snow, yet around 700 people still came. In 2019 rain forced a last-minute change of venue to First Methodist. “To our complete shock, 900 people participated,” Ashley said. From all of these experiences, we have learned that the magic is not in the environment, it is in the simple act of people coming together.”
The five who organized 1Table Florence include Brittany Ashley, Chelsea Wassner, Bevin Thomaston, Scarlett Lyons, and Kristin Husainy.
“That first year, we literally had no clue how we would pull it off, Ashley recalled. “I called a caterer I had heard good things about (Jill’s Sweet Memories) to ask her for some advice and recommendations for how to handle the food aspect. She fell in love with the idea and offered to provide the entire meal for $1 per plate.”
The generosity of Jill and her team is more impressive each year! Jill’s Sweet Memories is the definition of what it means to be an active part of our community!” Ashley stated. “Jill has been so amazing to provide the food for this event as a way of giving back. It’s a wonderful hot meal and we know health codes are followed,” she added.
Obviously, a nice catered meal for many hundreds costs far more than $1 per plate. Donations come in from individuals and businesses who recognize the value in his type of open community event.
“We are a 501(c)(3) and this year have set up an online platform that allows donors to support 1Table through a variety of ways. After we cover all costs, we give Jill’s Sweet Memories the rest. We have never come close to fully reimbursing her costs, but she comes back each year just to help enrich our community.”
Ashley indicated that event costs other than the food are fairly minimal: liability insurance for the day, paper products, coffee accoutrements, signage, volunteer refreshments, and a few other things. In addition, some area businesses allow them to borrow items for the event, like tables, benches, brown paper to cover the tables, and some festive decor.
“We five organize the event, but 1Table is done 100% by the community coming together. We have about 50 volunteers the day of to pull it all off.” The rain location is First United Methodist Church in downtown Florence
Donations will be accepted at the event to help offset Larkin’s costs. Donations also are accepted online at givebutter.com
Look for updates on Facebook at 1TableFlorence