OXFORD, MA – Gordon Cook is the kind of guy who really doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, but he’s become sort of an expert at cajoling other people to help him realize his annual goal of feeding 160 needy local families every Christmas. The Oxford man with the surname “Cook” has actually been a cook at the popular Carl’s Diner for more than twenty years, and for the last six of those he’s been running his now famous prime rib raffles every holiday season to benefit the local food pantry.
Here’s how his program works: Every Veterans Day, Cook begins selling raffle tickets. Then, almost daily, he pulls a winner for a 15 pound prime rib. As the end of the year approaches, he holds what he concludes with what he calls the “Grand Finale,” a mega drawing that includes a prime rib, plus a ham and other roasts and a number of gift cards. “This year, we’re adding a wide screen TV,” Cook smiled as he measured the imaginary TV with his outstretched hands.
When the raffles are complete, Cook uses the proceeds to purchase 160 turkeys and delivers them to the Oxford Ecumenical Food Pantry together with all the rest of the fixings assembled from local donations.
“I couldn’t possibly do it alone,” Cook demurred. “People are very, very generous. I depend heavily on Carl’s suppliers and many friends in the community who come through for me every year.”
When the turkeys are delivered and all of the bills are paid, Gordon donates the balance of funds raised to the Food Pantry, an amount that generally falls between $1,500.00 and $2,000.00.
Cook’s friend and Carl’s Diner owner, Paul Bremer nominated him for the Everyday Hometown Hero recognition. “He does this every year without fanfare, and he seeks no credit,” Bremer said. “Because of Gordy’s crusty personality, no one would ever guess the level of his effort and his generosity to the community.”
The annual prime rib raffle is his biggest venture, but it’s not Cook’s only contribution to the community. He sometimes mentors a budding chef from Project C.O.F.F.E.E., an occupational skills-based program at Oxford High School, and he is a regular participant in Clara Barton School’s annual Community Reading Day. He also encourages his two children, 12-year-old Molly and 14-year-old Evan to give back to their community, involving them in the annual raffle process.
“Gordon is exactly the kind of community volunteer we hoped to recognize with this program,” said Hometown’s President and CEO Mike Hewitt. “He even got me to commit to being a community reader next year, proving once again that it’s pretty hard to turn a guy like Gordon down.”
A donation of $100 has been made to the Oxford Ecumenical Food Shelf in Mr. Cook’s honor. You may find them at 4 Maple Road, Oxford, MA 01540 or call (508) 987-1062.