The annual Free Faribault Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner is back next Thursday at the American Legion Post 43.

Co-Chairs of the event Julie Fox and Laura McColley are scheduled to give us details on today's KDHL AM Minnesota program at 9:30 a.m.

The event was started in 1986 by Mel and Jerry Hlady, former owners of McNamara's Restaurant and Pub in the former Faribault Hotel on Central Avenue.

The Hladys had each suffered the passing of one of their parents that year and decided to do the event on a bit of a whim.

In 1986 nearly 300 people were served and that number has grown to between 1,200 and 1,500 each year.

A turkey dinner with all the trimmings is served.

Initially there were no delivered meals but now scores of meals are delivered on Thanksgiving Day.

I love this event and to be honest am torn between it and the Cancer Relay for my favorite volunteer event in Faribault.

The two are different.

The Cancer Relay is a fundraiser to fight a disease that has touched all of us in one way, shape or form and the Thanksgiving event is a simple gift of time more than food.

The all-volunteer event is amazing in that there are no sign up sheets.  People just show up and help.

I usually bring my potato peeler and help with that chore the evening before Thanksgiving and then deliver meals on Thanksgiving Day.

I also take a meal home on Thanksgiving and don't need to worry about leftovers.  I eat as soon as I get home and turn on the traditional football games and usually take an unintended nap in the afternoon.

Volunteers are once again being requested to help prepare the meal and serve the meal and of course clean up after the meal.

Here is the schedule for volunteers:

Tuesday, November 21: Turkey Cooking

  • First shift:  8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
  • Second shift: 1:30 p.m.- 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 22: Meal Prep

  • Turkey Carving, Potato Peeling and Table Setting:  6:00 p.m. (Bring your own peeler please)

Thanksgiving Day

  • 7:30 a.m. Kitchen Helpers
  • 10:30 a.m. Meals for Home Delivery Available and Legion Meal Service Helpers Report
  • 11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. Meal is served at Legion
  • 2:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m. Clean Up Volunteers needed

Home delivery requests for meals must be received by Wednesday, November 22 by calling the Senior Center at 332-7357.

Cash, checks payable to the Faribault Foundation and/or non-perishable food item donations are welcome.

A lot of communities over the years have tried to do the same type of event without success so I am so thankful for the many people who have made this event such a success.

It's one of the reasons why I believe the Faribault community is special.  I've always said Faribault is a very loving community and the Faribault Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner provides more proof.

Peeling Potatoes Faribault Thanksgiving Dinner 2014. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld