The vision of a community Thanksgiving dinner blossomed

Photos by Jody Isaackson The Deutz brothers helped serve the community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Marshall Armory on Thanksgiving Day. The volunteers for the 2016 event served about 850 meals including about 250 takeouts.

MARSHALL — A community event that began with a vision from God has blossomed to serving our entire region.

Bonnie Guza of Ivanhoe remembers praying with the late Cathy Hively just over 27 years ago about starting a community Thanksgiving dinner as was served at the Armory in Marshall on Thursday.

“She was praying about a vision she had to start this,” Guza said.

Guza, her daughter Deb Gratz of Minneota and Hively’s daughter-in-law, Teri Hively of Balaton, were happy to talk about their shared history of working for the community dinner that was designed to serve and even deliver Thanksgiving dinners to elderly and shut-ins, but also to include members of the community who could come in for dinner or come for take-out.

“Cathy’s vision told her to ‘serve the best on the best’,” Hively said. “That’s why we serve on glass plates and real silverware and to use real potatoes.”

“That was one of the requirements,” Guza said in agreement.

The event first served about 70 people, Guza said. That was with all the volunteers. It has grown to having served about 850 dinners in 2016, including around 250 take-outs.

“It was held in the basement of a small church in town where there was no stove or sink,” Gratz said. “The volunteers cooked the turkeys at home and brought them in.”

“We had to haul in water to do the dishes in pans on the counter,” Guza said.

The number of volunteers has also grown from roughly a half dozen to about 200.

Hively is the coordinator with many of the volunteers from her church, Grace Life Church in Marshall.

Gratz said she was to be part of the take-down crew after Thursday’s event.

Guza is retired from serving, and was enjoying the dinner as a guest this year.

“We have a lot of great help in the kitchen,” Hively said, “and volunteers bring in anywhere from 90 to 100 desserts to go with turkey and all the trimmings.”

Hively also said that in recent years, many of the take-out dinners go to Hospice House and other group homes as well as other destinations.

You will not find a ticket taker or even a donation box in this dinner line. Everything is donated and free.

“People will come up to us after they’ve eaten to find out how they can make a donation,” Hively said. “Support is welcome, but not expected.”

It’s rewarding to come together as a group and work together as a community as well as seeing how it is such a blessing to others,” Gratz said.

“Thanksgiving is the perfect time of the year to do that; to thank God for all He’s given you by helping someone else.”