To ensure that everyone enjoys good company and a warm meal this Thanksgiving, various Stevens Point churches have joined forces to host the 30th Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
“It’s neat. It makes you feel really good about the community,” said Al Moen, senior pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Plover. The tradition began in 1984 and three other area churches later joined to accommodate the event’s growing popularity.
“It started here, but it outgrew this space easily,” Moen said. “After it was here for a short period of time, they asked to use a municipal building, so they used that, but as they became more involved with a variety of turkeys, they realized that was too small, too. So then St. Brons steps in and this thing really takes off.”
Today, St. Bronislava Catholic Church both sponsor and host the event with the support of The Spring United Methodist Church, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, and Good Shepherd. Moen described the partnership between the four churches as a wonderful endeavor.
Last year, the Community Thanksgiving Dinner catered to over 500 attendees, cooking 35 20-pound turkeys and over 100 pounds of ham.
The event is also responsible for delivering over 200 meals to local residents throughout the community. According to Moen, this is an especially helpful service to those who regularly rely on the national organization Meals On Wheels to supply them with food.
“Meals On Wheels closes for Thanksgiving, so we have a notice that goes out to those people who are often receiving that that says, for this particular day, call Good Shepherd, and we’ll make reservations and get the meal to you,” Moen said.
Mary Mahr, head of the Stevens Point branch of Meals on Wheels, appreciates the gesture.
“We do not deliver on major holidays so we have established a great relationship with the community churches that do the Thanksgiving dinner. Some call us and we make the referral for them, others call for themselves,” Mahr said.
Aside from providing individuals with food, Mahr said the service also serves an additional purpose: providing company.
“We find a majority of the people that get Meals on Wheels say they like the visit from the drivers more than anything else,” Mahr said.
Moen also feels the event meets a need in the community.
“It ended up being seen as something that truly spoke to a variety of different needs; from those who were connected to Meals on Wheels, to any individuals who were hard on their luck, to people who just wanted to be with a larger group,” said Moen. “It’s been great. People can come and have a great meal, and don’t need to reserve a place.”