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Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016

Community comes together to give thanks

Friday, November 23, 2012

Volunteers man the serving line during the community Thanksgiving dinner at Rejoice! Community Church, in Le Mars, Thursday. About 100 people from across the community volunteered their time to help with the annual event. To see more photos of this community event or purchase more photos, please look for the photos section of the web page.
As they ate turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing and more, people at the community Thanksgiving dinner agreed on one thing.

"It's very good."

During the seventh annual free meal Thursday, 245 people were served at Rejoice! Community Church, in Le Mars.

About 245 people ate Thanksgiving dinner at a free community meal Thursday at Rejoice! Community Church, in Le Mars. Another 315 meals were delivered to residents and those working on Thanksgiving at area businesses while 35 meals were carry-outs.
Another 315 meals were delivered to residences and local businesses and 35 meals were carry-outs, said volunteer Tim De Boer.

"We had a great turn out and were blessed with some great help this year," he said.

As for delivering meals to local businesses, volunteer Dan Ten Napel said it was a way to help employees celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

"We can give back to the people who are working for us," Dan said.

He and his wife, Michelle, and their children have helped with the annual free community Thanksgiving meal for several years.

Michelle, who, among other things, helped cut pies Thursday, said her favorite part of the dinner is watching older couples sitting across the table from young families as they eat together.

"You create this new family for a day," Michelle said. "That's what I love."

She said she also enjoys seeing all the volunteers including older people and younger people.

Donna Britcher, coordinator of the Thanksgiving dinner, said about 100 people from the community and area churches helped put the free meal together.

Close to 70 of those volunteers served, cooked and welcomed people to the meal Thursday.

"We had a lot of new people come and help," Donna said.

Volunteers such as the Ten Napels and Deb Van Otterloo and her children, Jess, Kevin, and Nicole make helping at the Thanksgiving dinner a family affair.

"It's kind of a tradition for the kids and I to help with this," Deb said.

Jess, 16, said it's a way to give back.

"We're giving back to people who may or may not have family around here," she said.

Her brother, Kevin, 11, said he, too, likes to help.

"It's kind of like were all coming together," Jess added.

Those who ate at Rejoice! Thursday had different reasons for doing so including not wanting to cook like Maggie Fleming, of Hartington, Neb.

"We wanted to spend time with our family and not have to do the cleaning up," she said.

Bob Kenaley, of Le Mars, agreed with his daughter.

"We like to bake cookies on Thanksgiving," he said. "We decided to come here and eat and get to the cookies faster."

Diners like Carolyn Bennett, of Le Mars, just wanted to share a meal with others.

"It's just to get together with other people and give thanks," Carolyn said.

Some of those who helped with the annual Thanksgiving dinner were long-time volunteers such as Julie Schultz.

She has been volunteering at the event since it was held at the Eagles Club, in Le Mars.

After outgrowing that location, the annual Thanksgiving meal moved to Rejoice! Community Church.

Julie said it's fun to see the community involvement.

"There's so many people here I don't know," Julie said. "That's what's cool."

Donna, in her second year as coordinator, said the volunteers and those who donate to the annual dinner are what makes the event a success.

"The donations come from all over the community, not only monetary donations, but food donations as well," she said.

For example, 580 pounds of turkey, 27 gallons of canned corn and 84 cans of jellied cranberries went into the meal, Donna said.

And at the end of the dinner almost all the food was gone, she said.

"I think we had a very good turnout," Donna said. "It was a nice steady pace."

The annual Thanksgiving dinner is hosted and sponsored each year by the Le Mars community, not Rejoice! Community Church, she said.

"The volunteers are from all over the community with different church affiliations or maybe no church affiliations," Donna said.

Volunteers like Julie amplified that statement.

"It's the community being the hands and feet of Jesus," she said.

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