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Taking the turkey to the curb

Community Thanksgiving meal will go on with adjustments for COVID-19

MARSHALL — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things this year, including the Thanksgiving holiday. But while gathering together won’t be possible this time, organizers of the annual community Thanksgiving meal in Marshall say they’re not holding back on the turkey and trimmings.

“We want people to know we’re there for them,” said Teri Hively, one of the meal organizers. The free Thanksgiving meal next Thursday will have curbside pickup outside Grace Life Church, as well as deliveries for people who are homebound.

This year will be the 30th annual community Thanksgiving meal, Hively said. Planning for the event took a different turn, however, as Minnesota responded to COVID-19.

“I knew in my mind, the meal had to go on,” even if it was in a different form than usual, Hively said. With the impact of the pandemic and the shutdowns that went with it, “We would see the need increase even more,” she said. Plus, with people having to celebrate at home, there were likely going to be fewer people needing or wanting to cook a large Thanksgiving dinner.

“We’re trying to put a pretty high emphasis on safety,” Hively said. There will be fewer volunteers to allow for safe distancing. People who would like a free dinner are encouraged to call ahead for delivery, or drive to Grace Life Church, located on East College Drive in Marshall. Curbside pickup of meals will be in the Grace Life parking lot on High Street. People should plan on entering the parking lot from High Street. Serving will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We want people to call ideally by Tuesday afternoon,” Hively said. People who would like meals delivered should call 507-532-3187 before 5 p.m. on Nov. 24. Hively said calling ahead is also encouraged for curbside pickup, “Just so we can plan for numbers.”

“We did not scale back at all,” Hively said of the food being prepared. The menu will be the same as in past years, with turkey, side dishes and desserts.

The biggest change to the event will be not having a chance to gather and socialize, she said.

“I know we will miss that,” she said. But at the same time, Hively said, she understands the need to stay safe during the pandemic.

“It’ll be normal again, hopefully next year,” she said.

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