Kenai Rotarian Randy Daly lends a hand preparing the Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day Feast.
For the last ten years, Kelly Keating and his family have been cooking Thanksgiving Day dinner for anyone in the community who needed a place to celebrate the great American holiday. “It started when my wife saw an announcement in the Clarion that the Salvation Army needed some help so she called and asked what she could do and they replied everything so she said no problem I’ll have a crew there at seven in the morning. She then got our family and her sister’s family together and for the next five years it sort of became a family tradition for us. Then as we started having family members move on to college and other places I put a plea for some help out to the Soldotna Rotary Club and Cook Inlet Academy so our family has evolved with the dinner over the last ten years,” said Keating.
KPC professor & Soldotna Rotarian David Wartinbee carves one of ten turkeys served at the Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day feast
The dinner usually accommodates some two hundred guests, according to Craig Fanning, Lt. of the Kenai Salvation Army. This year the crew provided and prepared ten turkeys and all the trimmings with students at Cook Inlet Academy peeling and dicing over 200 pounds of potatoes, “It’s really become a community event with everyone chipping in what is needed. I often panic at the last minute, but it always comes together and we had a great crew this year with the help of the Cook Inlet kids and the Kenai and Soldotna Rotarians,” said Keating.
Kelly Keating and his Rotarian volunteers prepare the 10th annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day feast.
“It’s become a great opportunity for folks in the community to give back to folks who otherwise would be alone today. We’ll have other members from the church and community coming here all day to serve and clean up. It’s not just for people who may not be able to have a turkey dinner, but for those who are alone for whatever reason, maybe their kids are gone or they just don’t want to go to all that effort of preparing a big dinner for themselves so they decide to come here and share their day with us,” explained Lt. Fanning. Fanning also wanted to remind everyone that the day after Thanksgiving begins the traditional Salvation Army Kettle drive and he encourages everyone to be nice to the bell ringers.
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