A community effort

Organizers get creative to continue Thanksgiving dinner and food drive tradition in Ivanhoe

IVANHOE — Organizers of the two-decade long tradition of offering a community dinner and spearheading a food drive on the weekend before Thanksgiving faced several challenges this year.

The Hendricks-Ivanhoe-Arco Area Food Shelf, the Ivanhoe Greenleaf 4-H Club and multiple Catholic charities helped organize and sponsor the annual community Thanksgiving dinner and food drive on Saturday.

This year, with COVID restrictions preventing the traditional sit-down dinner service of years’ past, organizers had to get creative in order to carry on the tradition of giving.

The event also had a different feel than in years past. Muriel Koopman, who was an original organizer of the event, died earlier this year. Her absence was felt by all involved as they looked to carry on the tradition in her honor.

“We’re doing it for her this year and people are donating left and right to us to help keep it going. Because we did lose somebody special in our community,” said Cindy Winter of the Hendricks-Ivanhoe-Arco Area Foodshelf.

The event saw cars lined up for blocks around town as Lincoln County residents made a donation of a non-perishable food item at one station before arriving in front of the VFW Hall where another group of volunteers game them a homemade Thanksgiving meal to be enjoyed at home.

Winter said this year’s event involved a great deal of planning to ensure that the process ran smoothly and safely for all involved.

“It took a lot of challenges because we had to get the city involved to block off the road and then we had to come up with how the tables would be set up to make sure that we are all six feet apart. Beverly (Wilson) was the engineer of that,” said Winter.

Wilson, also of the Hendricks-Ivanhoe-Arco Area Food Shelf, said the event takes an entire community effort to make possible.

“This would not happen without (the help of) a lot of people,” said Wilson. “First of all we have to have the VFW donate their facility to us. They don’t charge us anything to use the facility. The community club donated turkeys for us, and we had awesome donations to buy what the city wasn’t able to donate to us.”

All of the donations collected at the event on Saturday will go to the Hendricks-Ivanhoe-Arco Area Food Shelf. Wilson said the food collected will go a long way in keeping the Food Shelf stocked for those in need.

“This food drive keeps us stocked with food until spring. This is really good. They’re very generous,” said Wilson. “We have an awesome community.”


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