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Volunteers sought for Community Thank Meal

Volunteers of all ages can help at the Community Thank Meal. (Enterprise file photo)

Pie chefs are, once again, being called into action this Thanksgiving.

Leah Bervig and Krista Johnson, co-chairs of the 35th annual Community Thank Meal, invite community members to contribute scrumptious holiday pies.

"We're always looking for pie donations, definitely," Bervig said.

An assortment is welcome — from classic pumpkin pie to a chocolate, pecan, apple and more.

Hosted by the Riverside Methodist Church, the Community Thank Meal will be held Thursday, Nov. 23.

Turkey-carving enthusiasts are also needed this year. On the Wednesday morning prior to the feast, volunteers carve enough gobblers to feed an estimated 750 dinner guests. Another 250 hot meals will be delivered to the homebound.

In fact, an army of volunteers make the traditional Thanksgiving meal possible.

"We get so many volunteers, it's fantastic," Bervig said.

Duties include decorating, preparing food, delivering dinners to the homebound, serving and cleaning up.

While not a glamorous job, a cleanup crew is very much needed and appreciated.

"We are always in need of help with cleanup," Bervig said.

Many local families make community service part of their Thanksgiving tradition.

"That's how I started," Bervig recalled. While she was in high school, she volunteered to deliver meals. "It's always been my Thanksgiving tradition since I was young."

This year, two of her three children — ages 8 and 10 — will get involved for the first time.

"It's so fun to part of stuff like this. It's rewarding and it's fun. The atmosphere is amazing," Bervig said.

Johnson has regularly volunteered her time for the festivities.

"I love any way I can give back and help out those in need. It's just a great cause," the mother of four said. "My whole family is coming this year. I brought three of them last year, and they just had a blast. We delivered meals to the apartments. My daughter sat in the serving line as a greeter. It's great for my kids. I feel like, personally, my kids need to see some of that and understand a little more what it's like to need a hot meal."

To volunteer, call Bervig at 218-252-4196.

Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans and buns will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

There is no charge for the meal, but freewill offerings are welcome. Donations cover the grocery bill and advertising costs. Net proceeds from the meal are distributed to local charities.

Arvig has donated a turkey hotline at 218-237-TRKY (8759) for volunteers to register, to order meals for delivery or to request a ride. Hot meals are delivered within Park Rapids' city limits up until noon.

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