Community Thanksgiving Dinner tradition continues


When you don’t have family nearby, Thanksgiving can be a lonely day.

But no one in Powell has to be alone for the Thanksgiving holiday. Those who don’t have a private family holiday gathering are welcome to enjoy a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings at the 18th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Park County Fairgrounds. The meal will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 23.

“Anyone is invited,” said Amy McLain of New Life Church, which is managing the event this year.

Last year, 450 people were served at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

“This year, we’re planning on around 500,” McLain said.

In addition to preparing and serving a meal at the fairgrounds, organizers will arrange for transportation for people who need it. They also will arrange for meal delivery to service workers and to people who are unable to leave their homes.

To arrange for transportation or delivery services, call the New Life Church office at 754-0424.

The dinner includes turkey, gravy, cranberries, mashed and sweet potatoes, assorted salads, breads, side dishes and pie.

Providing a big meal for 500 people takes a lot of volunteers to set up and decorate, to prepare and serve the food and to clean up afterward.

Each year, a local army of volunteers makes light work of those tasks. This year, the need for volunteers continues. Several local churches have already agreed to provide food for the event, but additional help is needed before, during and after the meal.

“We can always use volunteers,” McLain said.

On Wednesday, Nov. 22, from 5-7 p.m., volunteers will set up and decorate the building, peel potatoes and cut vegetables.

On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers will serve the meal and clean up afterward.

Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to call New Life Church at 754-0424 by Wednesday, McLain said.

It’s OK for volunteers to just show up to help, but it would be better if they called before Wednesday to allow for more efficient planning, she said.

“We could give them a job beforehand if we knew they were coming,” she said.

The task of organizing the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner rotates among Powell churches.

“This is our church’s first year ... so we’re learning,” McLain said.

But it’s not McLain’s first experience in helping with the meal — or eating Thanksgiving dinner with other community members.

“We went as a family, first to serve, but then ... there were so many people there, we decided to jump in and eat dinner there, too,” she recalled. “It was so fun to visit with people and hear their stories. It made the holiday more festive.”