By Kay Hoffer
After announcing earlier this season this would be the last year the original organizers of the Community Thanksgiving Meal would be preparing and hosting the annual holiday feast, the response they received was immediate and clear.
“You can’t stop this. It has to continue,” Barb Rittal recalled hearing again and again.
Barb and husband Jerrol along with Chip and Ginny Mintz began preparing the freewill Thanksgiving meal for the community eight years ago. It’s a project both couples have enjoyed doing, but with each year, as the popularity increased, so has the workload.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” Barb said of the meal that began with under 100 attending and now serves 150 people.
In past years the two couples have been able to rely on the help of a handful of other volunteers with food preparations and decorating the Bolin multi-purpose room, where the feast is held.
This year’s volunteer numbers of at least 20, may have been spurred on by the earlier announcement.
“We had so much help it was unreal,” Barb said. “It was nice. We had a really huge turnout for help.”
Organizers now plan on outlining the details of how to put together the meal. In doing this, they hope to pass on the torch. Volunteer Gordan Gomez is helping with that endeavor.
Although they want to continue to help with the project, Barb said she and husband Jerrol would like to see some other group spearhead it.
It’s a lot of work, Barb acknowledges, quickly adding, “But worth every bit of it.”
Some of the volunteers gathered for a picture before the meal.
The meal was made possible through donations of many in the community from the McDaniel family, who gave two deep fried turkeys and the Terry High School Student Council which donated a pit ham to the Prairie Chamber of Commerce which gave three turkeys this year.
Students’ artwork also contributed to the meal by gracing tables with hand decorated placemats, listing reasons of their thankfulness.
“It’s definitely continuing,” Barb now says of the meal. “We sure appreciate all the help we received this year. It was amazing.”
Published December 4, 2013