Marshall’s community Thanksgiving meal set for Thursday

Photo by Jenny Kirk As Teri Hively gets the tailgate down, Turkey Valley Farms employee Corey Heidebrink helps load several boxes of turkeys into the truck. About 500 pounds of turkey meat is needed for the annual Thanksgiving community meal scheduled for Thursday at the Marshall National Guard Armory.

MARSHALL — Ten days ago, Teri Hively was standing outside Turkey Valley Farms with the bitterly cold wind hitting her face as a handful of employees helped load 500 pounds of turkey into the vehicle she drove up to Marshall.

In the next few days that followed, the 30-pound turkeys were delivered to different homes. Those homes belong to volunteers who agreed to cook up the turkeys for the Thanksgiving community meal slated for Thursday at the Marshall National Guard Armory.

“It takes many hands to make it go,” Hively said. “But we’ve been doing it for so many years that it’s like a well-greased wheel. It just flows.”

This year, organizers anticipate serving about 900 people.

“We fed close to 900 people last year,” Hively said. “That’s what I’m aiming for this year, too. And we’ll have everything: the turkey, stuffing, real mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, squash, coleslaw, cranberry salad, buns — the full traditional Thanksgiving meal.”

There is no cost to attend, and anyone is invited to the Thanksgiving community meal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.

“We’ve had people say: ‘It’s just my husband and I, we really shouldn’t come though because we’re able,'” Hively said. “I tell them: ‘No, that’s what this is for.’ People don’t cook a turkey for just two people.”

The number of people served at the Thanksgiving community meal has grown significantly over the past 27 years. About 40 people were served that first year.

“My (late) mother-in-law, Cathy Hively, started it 27 years ago,” Teri Hively said. “It started in a building right down on Main Street. And it’s just grown every year.”

Hively added that the Thanksgiving community event has been held 26 of the past 27 years.

“It all started because Cathy had a vision to start this meal,” she said. “The Lord gave her a vision to start the meal and to serve her best on the best. That’s why we serve on glass plates and use real silverware.”

As members of Grace Life Church, Cathy Hively and her late husband, Jim, had a lot of support. But like the people they serve, the volunteers have come from everywhere in the community and beyond

“It’s such a community effort,” Teri Hively said. “It’s not just people from our church. That’s why we deem it a community meal.”

As the attendance has risen over time, so has the need for additional volunteers. Fortunately, there has never been a shortage of volunteers.

“They come from all over,” Hively said. “So many of the people who come and help out come back year after year, so you get to know the volunteers as well. There are well over 100 people if you take everybody into consideration.”

Hively said that a lot of the people who offer to cook turkeys are returning volunteers. Last year, Marshall High School family and consumer science teacher Kris Campion chipped in and agreed to help out again this year.

“She is teaching her kids how to cook a turkey, which I think is awesome because so many young people don’t learn how to,” Hively said. “They’re planning to cook seven turkeys, though that might change based on the size of them. But that was awesome last year when she stepped in and helped.”

While preparations for the upcoming event have been taking place for quite a few weeks already, the most intense volunteer work is needed this week.

“We have a service group that will come in and help us with the peeling of the potatoes,” Hively said. “We get everything out and we load a trailer Tuesday night so we’re ready to go to the Armory Wednesday morning to do the prep and stuff.”

Turkeys are brought in on Wednesday morning.

“We’ll start at 8 o’clock,” Hively said. “There are some people who will bring the turkey to me that morning, whole and hot. Then I carve it up. There’s a bunch that do that. But otherwise, the rest of them bring them in carved up. But they save the juice so we can make real gravy.”

A large number of people also agree to bake pies or other desserts.

“There’s usually a little bit of everything,” Hively said. “Anybody that is volunteering to make a dessert, it’s what they want to make. We don’t say you have to make pumpkin pie because not everybody likes pumpkin pie.”

Since Hively’s husband, Brad, their four sons and their families have also been regular volunteers over the years, they tend of keep Hively on her toes.

“My son (Jordan Hively) reminded me the other day that we almost ran out of desserts the last couple of years,” she said. “He said, ‘Did you up the number of desserts this year?’ I told him, ‘Yes. I increased the number of desserts this year.'”

Jordan Hively’s 4-year-old son, Westen, was with his grandma when she picked up the turkeys. He said he was excited to help out again this year.

“There’s jobs for little kids, too,” Teri Hively said. “They can help with the setting and clearing of the tables and the elderly people especially love seeing them around there. Westen helped serve the food last year. He’ll probably bring his little stool again. It’s a fun day.”

Hively said she feels good about helping provide the much-needed and enjoyable Thanksgiving meal for others in the community.

“It’s rewarding,” she said. It’s a good feeling to know people can come in and eat. And there’s always plenty of fellowship and visiting that goes on.”

This year marks the third since Hively was put in charge by her late mother-in-law.

“I’ve always been involved, but in 2014, after the Thanksgiving dinner, Cathy handed the baton off to me,” Hively said. “It’s a very good thing that she started and we’ll keep doing it, with the help of many people.”

Hively said there will be music playing throughout the event and thanks to Kim Korver, the Armory will be festively decorated.

“The decorations always look nice,” Hively said. “Kim always does a beautiful job with that.”

Hively praised all of the volunteers, but noted the Rev. Doug Wing for the good support system, Kelly Deutz for being a “huge help” with organization and Bob Deutz for coordinating all the deliveries.

“Bob does a very good job of that,” Hively said. “He puts routes together for people. Those volunteers get a list of places all in kind of the same area.”

Hively said the deliveries are pushed out the door before the regular serving line begins (11 a.m.).

“At about 10:30 a.m., we’ll crank up the serving line and get the deliveries out the door,” she said. “We have people who volunteer to just do deliveries.”

The deliveries are just for people who are elderly or shut in. To order a carry-out or meal delivered, call 507-532-3187 before 5 p.m. on Tuesday.