Two hundred some senior citizens on the Central Peninsula had a double Thanksgiving dinner last week thanks to the employees of Marathon and Hilcorp and a tradition started by the oil and gas industry many years ago at the Kenai Senior Center. “It’s wonderful! We really enjoy coming and serving the seniors, many of the folks here today have contributed a lot to the community over the years and many are now retired from the oil and gas industry that they helped build here and it’s a nice chance for Marathon and Hilcorp and our employees to give something back to those who have served us for so long and a tradition that we are proud to continue,” said Wade Hutchings, asset manager for Marathon. Hutchings also complemented that staff at the Kenai Senior Center that helped with a lot of the cooking and preparation, “The kitchen staff here are great, we relied on their expertise and we just provided the manual labor, but it’s a favorite day for our employees because they get to meet the folks we’re serving and thank them for their contribution to our community,” added Hutchings.
Then on Thanksgiving Day over at the Salvation Army in Kenai a turkey dinner with all the trimmings was provided by Soldotna Rotarians for over 80 some folks who found themselves without a place share Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a tradition that the Kelly Keating family started many years ago and when Keating joined Rotary the Soldotna Club took it on as an annual event. “We cooked and carved up ten turkeys this morning and prepared the trimmings and mashed potatoes and gravy, but this is a community effort, yesterday a group from Cook Inlet Academy came over and peeled potatoes and cut carrots and later today other volunteers will do the serving so it’s a big effort and takes a lot of people working together,” said David Wartinbee who has been coordinating that group effort for the last ten years to be sure everyone has something to do and the community dinner comes off like a well choreographed dance. “It’s become our family tradition. We come here and make dinner for folks who may not have family here to share with then we go home and have our family dinner. It makes the day even more special,” said Wartinbee.
Foreign exchange student from Bolivia Carolina helped out mashing some 50 pounds of potatoes and commented, “We don’t have such a holiday, but it is great fun serving others and I think all countries should have such a holiday.” Salvation Army envoy Craig Fanning said he never knows how many will turn out for the dinner, “We plan for about 200 folks and it varies from year to year, but part of Thanksgiving dinner are the left-over’s and we always send folks who come home with some,” he said.