by Krystal Spring
Hundreds of Havre residents will be able to share a Thanksgiving Day feast together, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor and the hard work of area volunteers.
The community turkey feed began in 1984, with a goal to provide a turkey dinner to those in the community who do not have the finances, friends or family to share a traditional Thanksgiving Day feast. Twenty-one years later, the dinner is still a hit.
Alan Sorensen, who volunteered to take the reins of the dinner two years ago, said preparation for the feast is already under way.
"All the food's been ordered and seven people have already volunteered to help," said Sorensen, who is the wire editor at the Havre Daily News.
Sorensen said volunteer help is vital to the dinner's success. In the past, church groups, high school students, Montana State University-Northern athletes, and members of area clubs and organizations have volunteered their time at the turkey feed. From cooking, serving and washing dishes to packaging up dinners and delivering them to homebound residents, volunteer help makes the community feast possible, Sorensen said.
"It's dynamite the way people pitch in," he said. "The volunteers are what makes it all work."
Now in its 21st year, the Thanksgiving turkey feed owes its beginning to Dick Hary, a local businessman and longtime Havre resident who died on May 29.
After Hary funded the dinner for 17 years, a new anonymous donor stepped up to take his place.
Sorensen said hundreds of Havre residents benefited from Hary's big heart and generosity.
"He was a super guy," he said. "I'm going to be thinking about Dick when we do (the dinner) this year."
The 21st annual Thanksgiving Day community dinner will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 25 at the St. Jude Parish Center.
The dinner typically serves anywhere from 600 to 800 people. The feast will consist of turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, vegetables and lots of other trimmings. Anyone - rich, poor, singles, couples, families - can attend, Sorensen said
"It starts with the donor. The volunteers make it a go. But without the diners, it's nothing," he added. "It's a great opportunity for everybody in the community to get together. I'd really like to encourage those people who can to come out for the dinner."
Leftovers from the feast are donated to the Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen.
Sorensen said while volunteer help is welcomed for the dinner, monetary and food donations will be turned away.
He said he's still looking for volunteers for the dinner. People who would like to donate their time to put on the community feast can call Sorensen at 265-6795, ext. 15.