Three community meals are being served this Thanksgiving Day with the help of volunteers who want to make sure everyone has a place at the table or a hot meal at home.

Community Thank Meal in Park Rapids

Everyone is invited to come to Riverside United Methodist Church on Hwy. 71 north in Park Rapids from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. There is no charge for the meal, but free-will offerings are appreciated to help with the cost.

Leah Bervig and Krista Johnson are co-chairs of the event.

Bervig said the biggest change this year is that take-out meals will not be available. Instead, hot meals will be delivered to anyone within Park Rapids city limits who puts in a request by dialing the meal hotline, donated by Arvig Communications Systems, at 218-237-8759 and leaving a message.

Bervig said volunteers are especially needed to deliver meals and to help with cleanup after the meal. “We usually have 100 volunteers or more,” she said. “And we definitely need some more pies.”

She said they could also use a few more volunteers to help in the serving line and with meal preparation.

“We do the potatoes, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, all of that,” she said. “We have a crew that comes in on Wednesday to do all of the meal prep and then Thursday we have a rotating schedule of volunteers. Krista and I are there at 6 a.m. with the cooks and two main kitchen people and get everything started and then we have a rotating schedule for volunteers for the rest of the day. Families who want to have dinner at home can come in when it’s convenient for them.”

“We encourage people to come and eat with us at the church,” she said. “It is for the entire community.”

Last year, after all the food was paid for, there was a surplus of around $900 from free-will offerings. “We donate that money back to the community,” she said. “Last year it went to Helen’s Kitchen, the food shelf and Kinship.”

Bervig said Coborn’s keeps a running tab for dinner expenses and are reimbursed after the meal. “They cook all 40 turkeys and deliver them to us, they’re awesome,” she said.

She describes helping with the meal as “a rewarding experience and a lot of fun. We have a lot of the same volunteers every year, so it’s kind of like our own Thanksgiving family now. We have a ton of families who come in to eat and volunteer either before or after they eat, too.”

Nevis church will deliver Thanksgiving meals

Bethany Lutheran Church in Nevis will host a free Thanksgiving meal from noon to 2 p.m. This new event came about from Sara Lowry’s experience with her family a few years ago.

“I think there’s a need here, especially for meal delivery,” she said. “I thought of the idea because I moved here in 2011 when I was a single mom of three. We couldn’t afford to go down to the Cities and be with family for Thanksgiving. I didn’t have the money for it. So we made up a new Thanksgiving thing because we were kind of bummed about it. I had each of the kids choose anything they wanted to eat and told them I would make it for them. That experience made me wonder how many other people can’t travel or don’t have anybody here like us. And I thought it would be kind of cool to have a dinner where you can be with your community.”

All three of Lowry’s children will be helping with the meal at Bethany. Brendan is 19, Cammille is 16 and Evan is 12.

The menu of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn casserole, dinner rolls, stuffing and pies is all free of charge.

“We need donations of money, gift cards to grocery stores or food,” she said. “Pies can be made ahead of time and brought to Bethany from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday so we can freeze them.”

Volunteers are needed to prep and pre-cook some of the meal items Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m., help get ready for the event beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, serve food, clean up afterwards and deliver meals to people in the Akeley and Nevis areas. Delivery to rural Park Rapids will also be offered.

Call or text Lowry at 252-5004 to reserve a meal at the church or to be delivered or to volunteer to help with the event.

Free turkey dinner in Akeley

A free Thanksgiving dinner will be served from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Akeley Regional Community Center. The menu includes turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, vegetables and more. Pie and beverages are also provided. Funds for the dinner are provided by the ARCC.

Volunteers are needed to help get the meal ready to serve from 9 to noon on Thanksgiving Day. For more information, call Lori Muller at 317-408-7916.