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Letter to the Editor - Thirty-seven-years-old and going strong


November 21, 2018

I’ve surpassed 25 consecutive years of joining as many as 800 of my closest friends in savoring the turkey and all the fixins during the annual Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner, first in St. Jude’s Social Hall and then in the Parish Center.

I knew about the dinner the first time around, but I and my two boys dined at my parents’ home the few years it was prepared and served, beginning in 1982. The anonymous donor, a popular Havre businessman, conceived the idea of picking up the $1,200 to $1,500 tab at a time when poverty, joblessness and hunger were taking their toll across the country and here in Havre.

The first year, 45 volunteers served about 235 diners. In year two, the number of diners rose to more than 500 and then approached 800 in the third year.

The benefactor refused donations of any kind and continued to fund the meal through 1998, a loving 17-year commitment in time and money.

At the conclusion of that dinner, the donor decided to step down and another local businessman eagerly jumped at the opportunity to carry on the tradition, which he has done now for 20 years.

About 1990, I convinced my mother that she no longer had to toil in the kitchen and that we and my boys Jeremy, Ryan and David should attend the community dinner. Despite his primary intention of feeding the hungry, the donor had also emphatically invited everyone, whether needy or not.

We arrived to find the line snaking from the serving station at the Social Hall’s kitchen around the dining room, out the door, past the coat rack and up the stairs and into St. Jude’s parking lot.

When we finally entered the dining room and signed in, my mom looked around and smiled. The room was filled with friendly faces of diners, servers and those of us standing in line. It took but a few moments for her to realize that many of the folk in the room were people she knew, many of whom she hadn’t seen in years.

The food was great, the company was excellent and we all enjoyed the time together. 

The boys have families of their own now and alternate hosting the holiday meals. I, however, have continued to attend the annual community dinner, instead, sharing the experience with friends from throughout the area and remembering my parents.

Hope to see you all there.

Alan Sorensen



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