Lifestyle

It’s Turkey Time (times two): Thanksgiving dinners scheduled Nov. 21, 25

Community Thanksgiving Dinner volunteers: Back from left, Rex Stickle, Mike Nachlinger, Dennis Hazleton, Dan Sorgen, Richard Civille, Frank Penwell, Jim Knych. Front from left, Ary Hobbel, Dave Vandaveer, Alex Gavora, Linn Motko, Minnie Knych. - Contributed photo
Community Thanksgiving Dinner volunteers: Back from left, Rex Stickle, Mike Nachlinger, Dennis Hazleton, Dan Sorgen, Richard Civille, Frank Penwell, Jim Knych. Front from left, Ary Hobbel, Dave Vandaveer, Alex Gavora, Linn Motko, Minnie Knych.
— image credit: Contributed photo

It has been a tough financial year for many people. Your neighbors want to ease your mind a bit this holiday season.

The community Thanksgiving dinners are a chance to relax, eat well, enjoy local company and not worry about the cost. They also provide a way to give back to the community through volunteerism.

The first dinner, known as the Early Thanksgiving Dinner, is organized by Dan and Donna Miller. The dinner has been a community event since the 1980s and has moved around various venus as the numbers of attendees grew. The community is now invited to the Friday Harbor High School Cafeteria on Nov. 21 from 2-4 p.m.

“There was almost 300 people last year,” Dan Miller said, describing how popular the dinner has become.

In the true spirit of giving, the event is free and open to everyone. No donations are required, the Millers’ priority is that any one of any age can come and enjoy everything “from turkey to pie,” free from the worries of paying.

“It’s for everybody,” Miller said.

The Millers invite any people who wish to volunteer to contact them at 378-2046. Volunteers are needed to serve, and, as Miller said, “the clean up is important.”

The second dinner is on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, and was first facilitated by Minnie and Jim Knych. To Minnie, the island community constitutes one big family, and Thanksgiving is the time to get that family together.

“1999 was our first year. We wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving, and it’s more fun when you have a crowd,” she said. A crowd is what the dinner subsequently drew, with Knych estimating a multigenerational group of over 350 last year.

As in previous years, the dinner will be held at the Grange, with food served from noon to 4 p.m. There will be the traditional spread of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, salad, dessert and more.

The use of the Grange is donated to the event, and Knych said she is impressed with the community’s unfailing ability to support the dinner. “Many individuals and almost every service group on the island participate in this annual event.”

Originally, there were no donations buckets at the dinner as the Knyches did not want people to feel pressured into donating. However, Minnie said people were enthusiastic to contribute and thus each year the “menu and ambience has improved.”

Knych is making volunteering easy and organized. For an updated list of available volunteer positions, contact her at 378-4662 or knych@rockisland.com. Additionally, these lists are also issued to all the island service clubs.

“You can never have too many volunteers at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. This year, whole families have already started calling to volunteer. This event seems to bring out the best in all of us.”

The community dinner needs to recruit a “Turkey Team,” 28 people responsible for taking the 28 turkeys, donated by King’s Market, cooking them at home and bringing them in to the dinner. The cooling is made very easy by the dinner organizers, as Knych said, the turkeys are “seasoned and ready to put in the oven” — a minimum effort for a valuable contribution to the community.

Other cookery help is needed in the form of salad and vegetable dish makers, and additional people are needed to fill the server positions.

Knych said the washing-up shifts are not long. “It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling about the community, this community is family.”

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