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The late Rich Holly and Don Osman honored at Havre de Grace Thanksgiving dinner

Volunteer Colleen Hyde, right, completes another meal to be delivered during the Community Projects of Havre de Grace Thanksgiving Day dinner at the Havre de Grace Community Center Thursday.
Volunteer Colleen Hyde, right, completes another meal to be delivered during the Community Projects of Havre de Grace Thanksgiving Day dinner at the Havre de Grace Community Center Thursday. (MATT BUTTON/THE AEGIS)

The late Richard Holly smiled on volunteers assembled for the Havre de Grace community Thanksgiving dinner Thursday, in the form of a photo unveiled as a tribute to his efforts as a key organizer of the annual event.

The dinner, in its 29th year, was held at the Havre de Grace Community Center on Lagaret Lane.

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Volunteer Cindy Dressler, of Havre de Grace, and her 21-year-old daughter, Katie, gazed at the photo, which shows Mr. Holly smiling broadly over a plate of onion rings. They could also see a plaque from the City of Havre de Grace honoring Mr. Holly and Don Osman, the Thanksgiving dinner coordinator.

“I think it's awesome,” Dressler, who had Osman and Mr. Holly as teachers when she attended Havre de Grace High School, said. “I think they both deserve it.”

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Mr. Holly, who died in February, was a retired educator who taught at Havre de Grace High for more than 40 years. He was an active volunteer in his adopted hometown — Mr. Holly was born in Pennsylvania — through organizations such as Community Projects of Havre de Grace, the nonprofit that has supported the Thanksgiving dinner for the past four years.

Osman is also a retired HHS teacher and a former member of the Harford County Board of Education. He founded the now-defunct student community service group SMILES in 1984. The group put on the Thanksgiving dinner until it folded during the 2012-13 school year.

Katie Dressler, who lives in Camp Lejeune, N.C. with her Marine Corps husband, said she volunteered with SMILES as a Havre de Grace student — she graduated in 2014.

“He's the most caring guy I've ever known,” she said of Osman. “He's super amazing, he really cares about everybody more than himself.”

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The Dressler family volunteers for the dinner each year. Katie, a Baltimore Ravens fan, joked that the only thing she does not like about Osman is his Pittsburgh Steelers sweatshirt.

Osman, a Pittsburgh area native, stood out in his bright yellow Steelers sweatshirt.

The photo and plaque were unveiled shortly before Osman began handing out cards to volunteers. The cards bore the names and addresses of people to which they delivered meals throughout Cecil and Harford counties.

Meals were also served to people at the community center.

Steve Gamatoria, chief of staff for the City of Havre de Grace, and City Council President David Glenn made remarks, along with Mr. Holly’s widow, Karen.

The tribute to Osman was a surprise for him.

“It’s very humbling,” he said later in the midst of answering questions from volunteers, taking phone calls and greeting dinner guests. He also posed for photos with groups of volunteers.

Councilwoman Monica Worrell and her new colleague, Casi Tomarchio, both volunteered at the dinner for the first time this year.

“They are incredible individuals who have committed so much to our community,” Worrell said of Osman and Mr. Holly. “They are examples of volunteers at the highest level, and we should all aspire to give the way they give, selflessly.”

Tomarchio, who has lived in Havre de Grace for about four years, said the dinner “epitomizes” the city’s volunteer spirit.

“They will go out of their way to make sure everybody's taken care of on a special day,” she said of people who call Havre de Grace their hometown.

Tomarchio was sworn in as a councilmember Monday. She fills the seat Gamatoria vacated when he became chief of staff for Mayor Bill Martin.

Lyle Sheldon, the president and CEO of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health — and a Havre de Grace resident — was another first-time volunteer.

He called his effort, which involved delivering meals, “another way to reach out to our community.”

The dinner usually draws hundreds of volunteers, and Thursday was no exception, evidenced by the long line of people waiting to pick up delivery meals.

“[It’s] pretty remarkable, heartwarming actually,” Sheldon said.

Edward Larkins, a Havre de Grace resident, who came for the feast, said he learned about the dinner while visiting the food bank at St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Havre de Grace.

He eats at the food bank on Tuesdays and Fridays. Larkins said he could have celebrated Thanksgiving at home, but he decided to go to the dinner for “fellowship” with other people in need.

“Reaching out in love to people, that's what Thanksgiving is to me,” he said.

Larkins said he was homeless for about two months in early 2017 because he could not pay his rent.

“This is very needed and not just on Thanksgiving Day,” he said of the dinner. “It's needed all year ‘round.”

Aegis staff member Matt Button contributed to this report.

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