Serving 1,000 meals

Volunteers make community Thanksgiving meal a reality

MARSHALL — Preparing a holiday meal can be a big undertaking — especially when you plan on feeding hundreds of guests.

The annual community Thanksgiving dinner brought lots of people together at Grace Life Church on Thursday, and among them were the volunteers who helped prepare and serve the turkey and trimmings. In the hours before the doors opened for the meal, the kitchen and cafeteria at True Light Christian School were busy with people preparing pans of stuffing, mashing potatoes, and filling to-go boxes for delivery.

Planning for the annual event starts well in advance, but Teri Hively said things get more intense the week of Thanksgiving.

“Starting on Monday, this is ‘go week,'” she said.

Organizers of the community Thanksgiving meal anticipated serving over 1,000 people this year, Hively said.

Preparations for the Thanksgiving meal included peeling potatoes on Tuesday, setting up serving lines and decorations at the church, driving meal delivery routes on Thanksgiving day, and more.

The volunteers who worked to make the meal possible this week included Grace Life Church members as well as people from the Marshall area community. On Wednesday, a group of volunteers from Southwest Health and Human Services helped unload folding tables from a trailer, and later added tablecloths and centerpieces.

“I thought it was a good way to spend the afternoon,” said Jessie Wichmann, one of the SWHHS volunteers. Fellow SWHHS volunteers Melanie Guetter and Lori Tammeus said it felt good to help out, and to see everyone working together.

The volunteers preparing and serving meals on Thursday included a mix of experienced workers and newcomers. Paul Penske, Olivia Penske and Maddy Penske said it was their first time helping serve at the event.

“We wanted to help out, and we weren’t traveling this year,” Paul Penske said.

Brett Massmann said it was his first time helping with the meal, too. On Thursday morning, Brett stood in the assembly line putting slices of bread and desserts into more than 300 delivery boxes.

Meal organizers said it was also good to be able to see the community come together for a holiday meal.

“It gives you a feeling of doing something for somebody,” Kelly Deutz said of helping to organize the community meal.

Doug Wing, Grace Life senior pastor, said it was good for the community to be able to celebrate together.

“I think it’s important, as a community, to do things together,” Wing said. Thanksgiving is a holiday that helps fight discouragement and brings people together, he said. “We have a lot to be thankful for, as Americans.”


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