Two area groups – one in Plover and one in Stevens Point – will provide free traditional Thanksgiving meals Thursday, Nov. 22, to help people celebrate the holiday.
Four churches – Good Shepherd Lutheran, St. Bronislava Catholic, Beautiful Savior Lutheran and The Springs Methodist Church – will sponsor the 29th Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, at St. Bronislava Catholic Church, 3200 Plover Road, Plover.
The Moose Lodge will host its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Moose Family Center, 1025 Second St. N., Stevens Point, Thursday, Nov. 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. “The Thanksgiving meal has been being done for more than 20 years,” said Mark Wanta, Moose Family Center administrator who helps coordinate the event.
Both meals are free and open to the public, and both offer delivery services for people who may not be able to attend in person.
“It’s a lot of work, bit it’s just such and endearing project,” said Suzanne Diekelman, part of the Plover meal organizing committee. “We try to remind people every year that it’s not just for people that can’t feed themselves, this is truly a community dinner, and to celebrate the day.”
There will also be a polka band at the Plover site, which Diekelman estimates will see 500 people over the course of the Thanksgiving event. An additional 250 people will receive meals through home delivery.
Diekelman said volunteers typically number around 100 on the day of the event, with additional volunteers helping with meal preparation starting Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
People interested in volunteering for event setup or day of help can sign up online at the United Way of Portage County’s volunteersrock.org or by calling Diekelman at 715-341-4054. People interested in helping deliver meals or having one delivered, or to give or receive rides to the meal, or to donate food or money to the event should call Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at 715-341-6122. Free will donations will also be accepted at the event.
The meal at the Moose Lodge was served to about 300 people last year, split between onsite and delivery, said Wanta, a number he expects to hit again this year. In total he estimates the Moose will cook around 150 pounds of turkey for the meal. A ham option will also be available for those dining on-site.
“A lot of people that pop in here just want that feeling of belonging. That’s part of what the idea is about extended family and community,” said Wanta. “I would hope that everybody would take a little bit of that goodness home in their heart.”
He said they still need volunteers Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of Thanksgiving week to help prepare, serve and clean up. There are usually between 30 to 40 volunteers that help with the effort, many of them Moose members, but others from around the area help out as well.
The Moose meal site, like the Plover site, will deliver meals to almost anywhere in the area, but Wanta asked that people consider their location when requesting meals from the respective Stevens Point and Plover sites. He said that if people request meals from the site closest to their home, volunteers will do less crisscrossing to get meals delivered. Both locations offer similar food. “They’re both handmade by grandmas basically,” he said.
Moose, which has 1,700 lodges in the U.S., is a fraternal and service organization that has 1 million male members and 400,000 female members in its Women of the Moose. Locally, 875 men and women belong to the Stevens Point lodge.
For reservations, deliveries or to volunteer, people should call the Moose Family Center at 715-344-3224.