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Community Thanksgiving meal back in action

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Community Thanksgiving Banquet

At the beginning of the Community Thanksgiving Banquet held in 2021, people start to line up at 1C | The Sanctuary to get their free, homemade meal. This year's meal will be held on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.

The traditional community Thanksgiving meal held at 1C Church – The Sanctuary is returning next week and volunteers are still needed to lend a hand.

Gina Frey, who has been helping out with the meal for several years, said they saw almost 700 people last year. Organizers are planning for 700 to 750 people on Thanksgiving Day.

“We’ve pretty much, for the most part, progressively gone up every year,” Frey said.

The free community meal itself will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 24.

“There’s three ways that people can get a meal that day – they can come and dine in or they can have a meal delivered to them or they can pick a meal up at the church,” Frey said.

The meal will include the usual Thanksgiving fixings, she added.

“We have turkey, mashed potatoes, corn. They’ll get sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing,” she said.

Planning for the event starts in August. Food will start being prepared on Monday.

Keri Robbins, another volunteer for the community meal, said volunteers are needed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for meal prep and then on Thanksgiving Day for the actual event.

“We will take anyone that is willing to help,” Frey said.

People interested in volunteering or ordering a meal ahead of time can do so at bit.ly/3V6QJGl.

Robbins said many people to go to the event don’t really have anywhere else to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, and this event gives them a sense of community. Since the meal is free, it’s a good option for those struggling to afford a Thanksgiving meal, she added.

“People are very grateful that we do it,” Robbins said.

Frey noted there are also community members who receive food services, such as Meals on Wheels, that don’t operate over the holidays. This event offers a way to have food delivered to them.

“I’ve seen people come in and they’re like ‘yeah, I’m the only one in my community that can actually walk or that’s mobile enough to grab stuff’ and so they’ll come and pick up stuff to bring back to everyone. So we see a lot of good come out of it,” Frey said.

Both Frey and Robbins noted the generosity of the community and local businesses in donating to the cause. Frey noted there are “feathers” at the church that list needed items for the community meal.

“Anyone that pulls a feather will bring in some kind of food item before the weekend before we start making the food for Thanksgiving week. And then if anyone wants to donate online, they can do that as well,” Frey said.

Robbins added the donations help ensure the community meal remains free.

The event also offers plenty of volunteering opportunities, Frey said, whether it be helping out with the event itself or giving food and/or monetary donations.

“It’s Thanksgiving, it’s a time for giving and helping others so I think it fits right into everything that the holiday means,” Frey said.

Hannah Schrodt can be reached at hannah.schrodt@lee.net.

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