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Returning to the table

Community Thanksgiving back in-person; though take-out meal numbers were also up

Photo by Deb Gau Servers at Marshall’s community Thanksgiving meal made sure Connor and Ann Hively got mashed potatoes and gravy with their turkey dinners on Thursday.

MARSHALL — Planning for a community Thanksgiving this year meant dealing with some uncertainties. While many Minnesotans were getting back together for family celebrations this year, others were avoiding big gatherings due to COVID-19 concerns.

The organizers of Marshall’s free Thanksgiving dinner decided to be there for both groups.

“We wanted it wide open to all options,” said Teri Hively.

“We were glad to be able to have the sit-down option again,” she said. “People are thankful we do it.”

A steady stream of people were arriving at Grace Life Church on Thursday for the traditional turkey dinner. But volunteers were also kept busy filling takeout containers for people celebrating at home.

“We’ve had more deliveries and pick-ups than normal,” said Grace Life pastor Doug Wing.

“We knew we were going to have around 500 takeout and delivery meals,” Hively said. That number was more than usual, but given everything going on in the world, it wasn’t surprising that the need for takeout meals was up, she said.

Area residents said it was also good to be able to come back and share Thanksgiving dinner at the church. Trisha Massman was sitting down to a meal with family.

“It’s really nice to see people we know from church, and socialize,” Massman said.

Dan and Patti Vierstraete said their family has also enjoyed coming to the community Thanksgiving.

“If we don’t cook, we come here,” Dan Vierstraete said.

“It’s good just to be able to have fellowship, family and friends,” Patti Vierstraete said.

Preparations for Thursday’s meal had been going on all week, Hively said. Community groups and local volunteers stepped in to help with everything from peeling potatoes on Tuesday to serving on Thursday.

“The volunteers are amazing,” she said.

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