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In woman's memory, Thanksgiving meals given to 82 families

CLEARWATER — The Noyes family is continuing a tradition started seven years ago by picking up the Thanksgiving tab for 82 area families.

We're talking turkey — 1,000 pounds of it, along with 164 boxes of stuffing and 13 gallons of gravy.

Hundreds of pounds of corn, green beans, peas, jellied cranberries, yams and 18 gallons of fruit cocktail.

And 1,312 corn muffins, to be exact.

All shopped for, stuffed into grocery bags, handed out to families in need earlier this week and ready for baking on Thursday.

"We do this to honor our mother who always told us not to forget the 'giving' in Thanksgiving," said Matthew Noyes, 45, a Clearwater attorney.

The tradition began after Mary Noyes died of cancer in 2003. She was 74.

Her family — 11 children and 31 grandchildren — wanted to find a way to honor and remember this special lady, a music teacher at St. Cecilia Catholic School for 26 years, so they picked the Thanksgiving holiday, which sometimes falls on her Nov. 27 birthday.

The first year, they supplied dinners to 75 families, in reference to the age she would have been had she made it to her birthday that year.

They add a household each year; next year, they plan meals for 83 families and so forth.

"I told my daughter, when it's 100, she's taking over," Matthew Noyes said.

Noyes described his mother as a tireless and generous woman who encouraged her brood to do well and share their blessings with others.

"She worked three jobs and sent all 11 of us to private school," Noyes said. "When we got to high school, we got jobs and chipped in to pay for all our Catholic educations."

Many of the family members got together and shopped on Saturday, stuffed bags on Sunday and distributed the fixings at Noyes' Clearwater law firm, Perenich, Caulfield, Avril, and Noyes, on Monday.

"My mother always said, 'Matt, before you go to bed each night ask yourself if you've made the world a better place.' " Noyes said Monday. "I know today I did that."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

In woman's memory, Thanksgiving meals given to 82 families 11/23/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 7:14pm]
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