In a spirit of thanksgiving, friends and families across the Kenai Peninsula are joining together. Some have already shared a meal. Others are just a day away from sharing mouth-watering menus with good company.
For the second year in a row, Anchor River Inn has invited the community to a free dinner, from 1 to 6 p.m. Employees donate their time. Lighthouse Assembly of God has donated 18 turkeys. Area businesses and residents donate other items.
"We just provide the place and some of the extra things," said Jesse Clutts, whose family owns the inn.
Last year they served more than 100 guests, went through six turkeys in the first hour and took in $1,000 in donations. Although not required, donations are given to Helping Hands, an Anchor Point organization run by Anchor Point Senior Citizens.
American Legion Post 18 and Auxiliary Unit 18 have been hosting an annual Thanksgiving potluck for the community of Ninilchik for as long as Nonie Hiatt, an auxiliary member, can remember. This year's event begins at 1 p.m. and goes "until whenever." Turkey and ham are provided by the Legion, and guests are asked to bring a favorite food item.
"A big old Thanksgiving dinner" is on the menu at Clam Shall Lodge, according to bartender Debbie Vail. On Thursday, Vail will help owner Rose Moorefield prepare the meal that is served free to guests beginning at 2 p.m. With visions of turkey, dressing, potatoes and "the whole thing" dancing in her head, Vail said, "I'm ready to eat!"
A regular patron at Tustumena Lodge, Perry Dawson is looking forward to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner served at the lodge on Thursday. A sign-up sheet helps owners John and Suzie Cook know how many to plan for, but the number served is expected to reach between 50 and 75. Dawson said he would help make room for those who don't get their names on the sign-up sheet.
"On turkey day, it's pretty hard not to have enough room," Dawson said.
The Salvation Army will serve a free community meal at its Community Center Building on Forest Drive from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"It is our hope and prayer that no one will spend this Thanksgiving Day alone," wrote Alice Lambert, who works in the Salvation Army's social service office.
Never sure how many places to set, Lambert is still looking for volunteers to help serve and donate food items. Needed are potatoes, marshmallows, onions, rolls, butter, olives, pickles, tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers, cauliflower, ranch dressing, chips and dip and Cool Whip. For more information, call 283-3879.
Getting a jump on the holiday season, more than 500 Nikiski residents enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday. Nikiski Community Services, a nonprofit organization made up of six area churches, sponsored the event. It was held at the Agrium meeting facility. A crew of 40 volunteers, including the hardworking staff at Bubba's, a Nikiski restaurant, prepared 350 pounds of meat, 380 pounds of real mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings.
"We're hoping next year to do even a little better," said Pastor Denver Copeland, of the North Kenai Baptist Church. "Our goal is to serve between 800 and 1,000."
Sterling residents also prepared in advance. On Monday, some 40 food baskets were distributed in the community, thanks to "the churches and the good grace of the neighborhood that contributes so wonderfully," said Judy Warren, of the Sterling Senior Center. "We have wonderful participation."
Tonight a community Thanksgiving service, sponsored by the Assembly of God and the Sterling Lutheran Church, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Sterling Senior Center.
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