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Community Thank Meal is Thursday

Hundreds went through the buffet line at Riverside United Methodist Church Last year. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

By Anna Erickson

The 31st annual Community Thank Meal ensures anyone who wants to can have company and a Thanksgiving meal.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28 at Riverside United Methodist Church in Park Rapids. Takeouts are also available and deliveries are made in the city limits to those who can’t come out.

The annual meal has grown over the years and now about 400 people are served at the church along with 250 takeouts. Thirty-six turkeys are prepared.

Spike Wellman is again coordinating the event, which utilizes a number of volunteers to help with preparation, deliveries, cleanup and more.

“I’ve been doing this for 12 years now,” he said. “Year after year it seems to come together. Plenty of people come out to enjoy a meal and visit with others.”

The meal is possible because of the many volunteers who step up to offer their time. An exact number of volunteers has been hard to come up with because people just show up to help with any of the tasks.

“It’s a lot. At least 100,” Wellman said. “Diane Wallace at Riverside really helps me pull this off, though.”

Sign up sheets have been placed at some of the apartments and senior living centers in town for people who want meals delivered. Those meals are put together and organized mostly before the meal is served at the church.

Volunteers carve turkeys, prepare food, deliver meals, serve and clean up, and provide pies and salads. Wellman said he hasn’t had trouble finding volunteers but can usually find more work if someone would like to volunteer.

“The turkeys are roasted at Coborn’s and carved up by volunteers Wednesday. We have 36 this year,” Wellman said.

The dressing is made from scratch Thursday morning.

The Thank Meal relies on pie donations and the goal is about 110 pies, Wellman said.

“We have a pie room and get them all sliced and put on carts for the kids to bring around the room,” he said.

This will be the last year that Wellman organizes the Thank Meal but he still wants to be involved.

“I still want to be part of the orchestra but I want to pass the baton on to someone else,” he said.

It has been enjoyable.

“The best part is just seeing and visiting some of these people,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for someone who might be alone on Thanksgiving or away from family.”

A piano player has volunteered to play music at the meal and it is becoming another part of the tradition.

“We just really try our best to make it an enjoyable day and traditional Thanksgiving meal,” Wellman said.

For more information, and to request a takeout or delivery meal, call the hotline at 237-TRKY.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561