Here in Pine City, there has been an event every Thanksgiving Day for the past 26 years during which our community family celebrates together relishing a traditional turkey dinner. Everyone is invited to the fellowship hall at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church at 825 Golf Avenue SW at noon on Thanksgiving Day to share in the festivities.
As you can imagine, a Thanksgiving feast for an entire community is an enormous undertaking. Community Thanksgiving Dinner coordinator Trudy Wood applauds the willingness of volunteers to make this event successful. “Much of Pine City becomes a beehive of activity for the days leading up to Thanksgiving Day,” Wood exclaimed.
Minpack’s Bob Thompson will donate 23 turkeys just as he has every year. Each of the turkeys are sent home with someone from Our Redeemer to be baked and brought back on Wednesday evening during which time the turkeys are deboned and loaded into large roasters.
Chris’ Food Manager Roger Theunick delivers discounted food items to four churches – First Presbyterian Church provides mashed potatoes; Pine City Evangelical Free Church makes the stuffing; Zion Lutheran Church prepares the sweet potatoes that the Lions Club kids peel; Immaculate Conception Church bakes desserts. Carolyn Tuckner makes her own special recipe of cranberry sauce. All the prepared food is delivered to Our Redeemer on Thanksgiving morning. Other churches participate in a myriad of additional ways.
“Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving is a jolly time of congenial sociability,” Wood mused. “It’s really gratifying to see how many kids get involved. The Boy Scouts fold silverware into the napkins; Girl Scouts fill containers with cranberry sauce and cole slaw. Other kids help decorate tables and assist as servers. Not only do they help with the dinner, they also earn community service credits.”
Wood went on to say, “We have meals delivered within a five-mile radius to shut-ins and those who do not have transportation – up to four meals per household. Folks who need meals delivered can call Our Redeemer Lutheran Church at 320-629-2985, option 5 to leave their name, address and number of meals needed. Meals can also be ordered for pickup at Our Redeemer.
“It’s amazing to see the drivers assemble by 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning to pick up meal packages and addresses for their deliveries. Caron Peters developed a system that groups addresses within defined areas so deliveries can be made quickly and easily. I think that many folks that have meals delivered could come here and enjoy the fellowship of others. And it would be wonderful if more families joined us here at noon then they can go home to enjoy their established traditions later.”
Leftovers are packed up and delivered to A Place For You. Donations that remain after expenses are given to the Pine City Food Shelf.
Gene Biever, local advocate for the downtrodden, had this to say: “So many folks, for so many reasons – don’t celebrate – can’t celebrate – have nothing to celebrate during a holiday that pays tribute to thankfulness. Life hands folks many difficulties – financial challenges, loss of loved ones, injury, deprivation, homelessness to name a few. Being able to enjoy a hot Thanksgiving dinner warms the heart along with the stomach. Maybe even the shut-ins that enjoy a hot turkey dinner might feel like more they are part of the community.”
Biever also mentioned that many who were on the receiving end of the community Thanksgiving dinner have been inspired to serve as volunteers.
“It makes my heart swell to think of all the help by so many in this community,” Wood said. “There’s a strong sense of dedication demonstrated by those who want to be involved year after year to share Thanksgiving Day with their community family.”
If anyone would like to volunteer for the community Thanksgiving dinner preparation, offer a donation, or would like more information can contact Trudy Wood, 320-629-1199.