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Eau Claire organizations serve free Thanksgiving meals

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 7:33 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - People showed their thanks this holiday by serving others.

Both Saving Grace Lutheran Church and Hope Gospel Mission hosted their annual Thanksgiving community meals Thursday.

For Dick Thorpe and his son-in-law Calvin Brandt, volunteering at Saving Grace Lutheran’s annual feast is a Turkey Day tradition.

“It’s wonderful,” Thorpe said. “It’s a feeling of some real importance.”

“I come from two hours away, about two-and-a-half hours away, from the other side of Wausau,” Brandt said. “And what I see here is a church, a Lutheran church that is giving back to the community, which I think is great.”

Brandt made the trip from Antigo Thursday morning to volunteer with family.

“When you got family involved in something like this, it really makes it special,” he said. “And, you know, you joke around here. You know, a lot of people are having fun. I hear a lot of people laughing and that. I see people sitting in the other room that are eating, socializing. I think that’s great.”

However, more important than spending Thanksgiving together, Brandt and Thorpe are doing it helping others.

“We don’t have a lot of family close by,” Thorpe said. “For us, this is, I would rather spend Thanksgiving giving something than just sitting around taking.”

At Hope Gospel Mission, volunteers served over 700 free meals to those in need Thursday according to Community Relations Director Brett Geboy.

“It is exciting. We have over 50 volunteers come together and staff put this on. And again, we do want to be a community resource and a blessing to the community so we’re able to do that through our community meals and it was really really good to see people come out.”

“It’s just a great day. It’s a great feeling to be able to do that today,” said Hope Gospel Mission Thanksgiving volunteer Nicole Dorwin.

She spending her 10th consecutive Turkey Day at Hope Gospel.

“It’s just a feel good being able to help others today, being able to hang out with people that come in, sit with them, eat for a while, serve them a meal, all these smiles on their faces, it’s just a feel-good day,” Dorwin said.

She doesn’t serve alone. Dorwin brings her kids each year to help out.

“They get to see and feel for what it’s like to come and help others and to serve and hopefully, yeah, that can be instilled in them and they will continue to do it too,” she said.

Most importantly, though, these community meals make sure people don’t go hungry during the holiday.

“Holidays can be wonderful but they can also be lonely for a lot of people,” Geboy said. “So to have a place for people to come and and at least enjoy that meals with others is huge for those that are struggling.”

The pandemic forced both Saving Grace Lutheran and Hope Gospel Mission to hold drive-thru meals in 2020. This year, they both offered in-person and drive-thru options.

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