The head organizer of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner said things seem, once again, to be falling into place for the annual event.
“I think we’re in really good shape, ” said Debi Rhines, who took over as head of the event last year.
Rhines said that, while more helpers would be welcome, she has had a great response in finding volunteers to help Wednesday in preparing the event, and to help serve and run the kitchen and clean up afterward Thanksgiving Day at the St. Jude Parish Center, on 7th Avenue across from Pepin Park. The volunteers include the Montana State University-Northern men’s basketball team.
“If people show up to help, we will put them to work, ” she added. “I won’t turn anybody away. ”
She said people coming to the event are asked to use the front door of the building, as the St. Jude Thaddeus School parking lot behind the parish center is torn up for work being done on the parking lot and playground.
The community event has gone on for decades, with an anonymous volunteer footing the bill — offers of donations will be turned down at the event. The purpose is to give a community thanksgiving, and a free Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, to all who wish to participate: rich, poor, young, old, singles, couples and families.
Rhines said the donor also requires that the shopping be done at locally owned Gary & Leo’s Fresh Foods.
“(The donor) wants to further the community by purchasing locally, ” she said.
The turkeys are cooked at Gary & Leo’s, with preparations of relish trays and other food done Wednesday afternoon at the center.
Rhines said retired Chef Peter Bruni again will be running the kitchen Thanksgiving Day.
Meals will be delivered to people who can’t attend the main meal, set to run from 11 a. m. to 2 p. m. but delivery must be ordered by 5 p. m. Wednesday. People can call the North Central Senior Center at 265-5464 to order meals to be delivered. No takeouts will be available at the dinner itself.