ONEIDA — Melvin Bain has been volunteering with the Oneida Community Feast for 10 years. The feast was started by his uncle, Brian Doxtator, in 1999, and this year, Bain's running it on his own after his uncle passed away from cancer this past August.
"This is kind of the big thing he looked forward to every year," Bain said. "I've been here since I was a little kid...and I've just kind of taken it upon myself to coordinate it since my uncle passed."
The feast welcomes the public, and anyone can come and get food. Usually, they feed around 200 or 300 people, but they've even fed 500 people in past years.
Since the start of the pandemic, the gathering has gone from dining tables in Oneida Tribe Parish Hall to a food drive-thru. The food served is traditional Thanksgiving food, and it's all donated.
There's also a team of volunteers every year who help prepare the food and facility.
"It is fast-paced. He made it out to be easy," Bain said. "It's been great though. Absolutely great."
Shanna Torres has been volunteering for 20 years and said she loves being a part of something that makes the community happy.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from. Everybody can use some help every once in a while," Torres said. "We come here every year, and it’s something we plan to keep doing.”
“For me, this is a just a big thank you to my uncle," Bain added. "He’s a big community guy, so anything he really does is for his community.”