Volunteers share Thanksgiving meal

Turkey and the fixings delivered with help from Shawano Presbyterian
Kevin Passon

More than a dozen women gathered the morning of Nov. 22 to prepare the food needed for more than 100 Thanksgiving dinners. Some were there volunteering for the first time; others have been there multiple years.

“We joined the church around 2000, and it’s been going on for that long, and it had been going on for awhile before that even,” said Judy Wetzel, as she finished peeling another bag of potatoes.

Shawano Presbyterian Church members are joined by other community volunteers to prep meals that are delivered Thanksgiving Day to 100 people throughout the city of Shawano. Food is delivered to those who are homebound or unable to prepare their own Thanksgiving Day meal.

Most recipients are not church members.

“It’s to remind folks that part of our mission is to serve our neighbors and to love our neighbors,” said the Rev. Debbie Pagels, church pastor. “One of the ways we can do that is to support those that are invisible in our community and provide hospitality. Thanksgiving’s about sharing food.”

Another 15 or so people from Shawano Area Matthew 25 eat their holiday meal at the church Thanksgiving Day.

The cost of the meal is covered through donations.

Like a giving tree at Christmas, church members pick a turkey from the Thanksgiving board. Each turkey features an item needed for the meal — including turkeys, fruit cocktail, green beans, butter, onions, gravy packets and rest of the ingredients.

“We accept cash donations from the church members if they don’t feel up to going shopping — those who want to participate but can’t,” Pagels said.

Anne Miller has been volunteering at the event for so many years, she’s lost count.

“It makes you feel good,” she said. “It’s what Thanksgiving is all about. We can make it a good day for others.”

Standing next to her was first-year volunteer Susan Hatfield, working her way through several stalks of celery.

“This is my first year doing this,” she said. “I always had Thanksgiving dinner to prepare, but this year my son and his wife invited us to go to their family dinner. I don’t have to cook this year, so I’m here.”

Another eight volunteers will deliver the meals Thanksgiving Day. The city is mapped out, so the delivery volunteers work in a particular neighborhood instead of driving from one end of the city to the other.

Of course, more volunteers are needed Thanksgiving Day to handle all the cleanup. Even that chore doesn’t seem so bad, knowing that someone has helped bring cheer to someone else’s Thanksgiving.