Community Thank Meal needs pies, volunteers, donations – Park Rapids Enterprise

Reservations for a free Thanksgiving dinner are being taken now through noon on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

The 41st annual Community Thank Meal will be held at Riverside United Methodist Church in Park Rapids on Thanksgiving Day. Meals will also be available for pickup at the church or home delivery.

Dinner will be served in the fellowship hall from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Home delivery is available within 15 miles of Park Rapids from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and curbside pickup is also available from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the gym door on the north side of the church.

Leah Quinn has been chairing the Thank Meal for 10 years.

“The focus is community,” she said. “We don’t want anyone to be alone at Thanksgiving. For those who can’t get out, we want to bring them a meal.

“We have a lot of return volunteers. It’s like the Thank Meal itself is its own special little family gathering. We have a lot of fun together. A lot of the volunteer families stay and eat at the church. It’s a great experience.”

She said the Community Thank Meal is dear to her heart.

“We serve around 1,000 meals each Thanksgiving,” she said. “I started helping my family with deliveries when I was young. There’s a lot of joy in delivering meals. I’ve always loved this event. I missed it when I was in college and out of town. When I moved back with my own family we started helping.”

There is no charge for the meal, but freewill donations are welcome and help cover ingredients and supplies.

“Spike Wellman, who chaired the dinner before me and is helping again this year, has coordinated a turkey donation drive this year,” Quinn said. “The church provides the space and Coborn’s cooks all the turkeys for us. The guys at the Legion make our stuffing – Denny Anderson, Bob Keezer and Bob Cadreau, who also gets the stuffing donated every year.”

Wellman said 20 turkeys were donated by community members this year. They ordered the remaining 25 turkeys.

“This is a non-profit deal,” Wellman said. “I chaired the dinner for about 15 years in the past. It has been difficult to put the meal on for the last couple of years because food costs have tripled, basically – at least our bill for the meal has. We rely on donations from individuals and the freewill offering when people come to eat or pick up meals. At the end, hopefully, we have enough to pay the food bill and some left back to give to the community. People are very giving.”

Arvig has donated a “turkey hotline” number 237-TRKY (8759) for the public to leave a message to order meals for dining in, pickup or delivery.

Quinn will make a list of these requests. “I will only call people back if I need more information,” she said.

Donations of pies and fruit or jello salads may be brought to the fellowship hall from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 21-22. There will be tables for pies and salads may be left in the refrigerator.

“It’s going to take 120 pies to pull this off,” Wellman said. “Coborn’s is donating 20 pies, so we’ll need 100 more.”

Volunteers are also needed.

“I’m always looking for volunteers, particularly the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” Quinn said. “We do all of the meal prep on Wednesday. And we always need delivery drivers on Thanksgiving. The more the merrier. It’s a fun experience to do deliveries.

“We always need a good cleanup crew of volunteers too. Families can volunteer together and we’ll find a job for everyone. Kids can help with things like setting tables or bringing the pie cart around.”

Any food remaining after the meal is donated to families in need in the community.

Donations for the dinner may be brought to the church office or sent to RUMC, P.O. Box 128, Park Rapids, MN 56470. Write “Thank Meal” on the memo line of the check.

For more information about volunteering, text or call Quinn at 218-252-4196. She will contact volunteers on Monday, Nov. 20 to set up their volunteer schedule.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.


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