The Msgr. A.D. Charbonneau Council 258 Knights of Columbus was able to make Thanksgiving a little brighter for 680 people Thursday.
Grant Knight Nelson J. Woods said that number is on par with the last year, when the Knights served about 650 dinners. About 500 were served the year before.
Mr. Woods said the economic downturn probably has a lot to do with the high demand for the free holiday meal, although the Knights do not track which of the people they serve are in need of a free meal because they cant afford to prepare their own and which take advantage of the day because they have no one with whom to share it.
They all come and have a good time, he said. Thats all we care about.
About 70 turkeys were cooked with all the trimmings. Mr. Woods said about 75 volunteers gave up celebrating the holiday on their own to help serve, decorate the hall and deliver meals.
Its really amazing, he said. Were very thankful for those people.
At about 11:30 yesterday you couldnt move in here, said Timothy J. Baker, who handles publicity for the event. We had so many people down here volunteering it was incredible. Of course, I dont know why that surprises me because its like that every year.
Mr. Baker said this was the 22nd year for the event.
The first year we did maybe 100 dinners between people eating at the hall and takeouts, he said. I remember we had 17 turkeys and my dad and I carved them all. Now you have to have a cast of thousands to pull off an event like this.
Mr. Woods said the vast majority of the food was donated by individual people.
He also acknowledged major donors attorney Preston C. Carlisle and Dr. V. Prasad Yitta.
Id like to thank the community, who came together with all the donations and all the volunteers we had to make this event possible, Mr. Woods said. Without the donations and volunteers, it wouldnt have been possible.
Mr. Baker said he is amazed that even though other communities offer their own free Thanksgiving dinners, the Knights have still seen an increase in attendance over the years.
I think Nelson is right. The economic need is out there, and we have a need to fulfill it, he said.
He said as long as the Knights continue fulfilling their mission on the holiday, the dinner will remain a tradition.
We had enough money to pay for everything, nobody went hungry, and everything was wonderful, he said. That is exactly what we want to have happen.