Del Norte stepped up to celebrate another Thanksgiving in full force.
Thursday’s 22nd annual community Thanksgiving dinner showed it’s more than plopping turkey and mashed potatoes on a plate.
As a local band provided soothing sounds, about 80 volunteers made sure that, at least for one day, anyone who wanted it had a place at the table to socialize and eat. At least 775 people did just that.
And while the eating area of the dinner was calm, the business was in the back, where the kitchen and preparation area were.
Bev Young has been helping for a couple of decades to coordinate the event with Teri Sandler.
They and a core group of volunteers started their day preparing the foods.
That included manually opening all of the canned foods, which first timer 13-year-old Kenny Carpenter was tasked with.
“I’ve been opening these up since 7:30,” said Carpenter, adding that he was enjoying his time knowing he was supporting a good cause on his birthday. He had opened 250 cans by noon.
The beans went into a large pot and were shuttled to the stove before eventually being put in a large pan shoved through a porthole to the serving line.
“Mashed potatoes,” yelled one volunteer into the kitchen from the porthole as they were rushed to him.
Mike Pincombe, Young’s son, has been volunteering since he was 10. Now 33, he has done almost every duty from washing the dishes to, this year, preparing the potatoes using a large mechanical masher.
“My mom started (volunteering) when I was young and now I have my 9-year-old daughter doing it,” said Pincombe. “You have to put something out there in the community. It’s a good thing.”
The day before, Pincombe delivered half the 40 turkeys donated by Cholwell, Benz and Hartwick CPA’s to Glen’s Bakery for cooking. The other half went to Safeway.
Walmart donated $1,000, which was used to purchase any food that wasn’t covered by donations from the community, Sandler said.
This year organizers were light on yams so she went to all of the grocery stores and took their whole stock of the bigger cans. If that hadn’t been enough, she would have gone back and bought all the smaller ones. The money also went to buy cubed bread dressing, creamers, sugar, salt and pepper, she said.
“Everything went so smooth,” said Sandler.
Young echoed her sentiments.
“We have regulars who come every year, who just get to work and know what they are doing,” Young said.
From rolling up silverware to preparing relish dishes, most chores are done the day of the event, although the dining tables are set up and decorated in prior days.
Deanne Lee Gear has been attending the dinner since 2009, when she moved to The Surf Apartments from Eureka.
“It’s nice when you don’t have anywhere to go, you can come here,” said Gear. “It’s been very excellent since 2009.”
She added it’s also nice to hear that every year she calls to volunteer, she’s told all of the spots are filled.
Young is quick to point out that without volunteers, the event couldn’t happen.
“They deserve many thanks for what they do,” said Young.