Community Thanksgiving celebrates 20 years on San Juan

For 20 years, the Community Thanksgiving has offered a special celebration on San Juan Island. It’s not just the pies, mashed potatoes and turkeys that have hundreds of people returning each year, but the friendship found at the festive tables, sinks and serving areas.

“Whatever the job, there is no shortage of laughs and camaraderie,” said Minnie Knych who has organized the event with her husband Jim since day one.

The annual dinner will be held from noon–5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22, at the Mullis Community Senior Center.

Knych urges volunteers to sign up ahead of time, to help the dinner committee prepare.

It can take up to 75 volunteers to make this island family dinner happen.

Everyone is welcome, from veteran volunteers to new ones. This year, the dinner is particularly in need of pies – homemade or purchased.

Islanders who’d like to fill their home with the smell of roast turkey are encouraged to pick up one of the 32 preseasoned birds at the Mullis Senior Center between 3 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21. All turkeys come with a cooking bag and foil pan for your convenience, along with the bird’s weight and cooking time. Pop it in the oven, and bring it to the community dinner hot and ready to serve.

The day of the dinner, there will be plenty of opportunities to help out — from serving pie to washing dishes. Organized in one-hour shifts, islanders can give as much or as little of their time as they’d like — a few hours or the entire day.

“It is basically organized chaos but lots of fun,” said Minnie Knych.

Some volunteers dine with the community either before or after their work shift and some go off to other gatherings. The Knychs like to help in the kitchen a while and then take a break to enjoy being with friends while having a traditional feast in the dining room.

“Our favorite part of the day is to look around the dining area. Sometimes there are three or four generations of people from all walks of life sitting together, and sharing a meal,” said Minnie Knych. “This is what community is all about.”

The community Thanksgiving dinner has grown over the years and more diners show up each year. Last year there were over 500 people. For Minnie Knych, the event just keeps getting better.

“Time flies when you are having fun, and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday,” she said looking back at the last 20 years.

For more information, visit or call the Knychs at 360-378-7040.

Contributed photos                                Scenes from previous Thanksgiving dinners.

Contributed photos Scenes from previous Thanksgiving dinners.

Contributed photos                                Scenes from previous Thanksgiving dinners.

Contributed photos Scenes from previous Thanksgiving dinners.