Nov 22, 2018 | By: Anthony Scott

Brainerd American Legion Packed For Thanksgiving Dinner

The tables were full, and it didn’t take much time for people’s stomachs to get full at the Brainerd Community Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by the American Legion.

“I think it is wonderful that all these people are helping with it,” said Lois Finch, a community member who enjoyed the free meal. “A lot of people wouldn’t have a big meal like this if they couldn’t come here, so I think it’s great.”

“It’s really amazing,” Karen Gates, a community meal attendee, said. “I’m just really shocked at how many people are here – it’s a good thing.”

For community members that could not make it to the Legion this afternoon, deliveries started at 10 a.m. to make sure everyone could enjoy a classic Thanksgiving dinner.

“We have a family that sets it all up, and then we have the sheriff, fire, police, and ambulance departments all help us out, as well as private citizens come in and deliver.” Paulette Thoennes, community meal organizer, said.

At the American Legion, they had everything you could imagine in a Thanksgiving dinner. From turkey and gravy to pumpkin pie, they had it all.

“The food was amazing,” Gates said. “I had turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, coleslaw, cranberries – it was just amazing.

Many of the people dining in were thankful for the over 100 volunteers, because without them, this would not be possible.

“It’s just something my wife’s family has done before we were even dating,” Joe Koman, a community dinner volunteer, said. “We have just continued it; we bring the kids with us, just a way to show them how easy it is to give back to the community.”

The Community Thanksgiving Dinner is a Brainerd tradition that has been going on for over 30 years, and the people who attend the community dinner have become a family of their own.

“I’ve done this for the past ten years, and it’s really rewarding,” Thoennes said. “These families have become my Thanksgiving family.”

“There’s some people who eat dinner here, and they see each other here once a year, and you hear them as they walk out, ‘We’ll see you next year’,” Koman said.

So, what was the Brainerd community thankful for today?

“I’m thankful that we are all here together and that we can have such a wonderful meal,” Finch said.

“I’m always thankful for our family and our health,” Koman said. “Without that, we really don’t have a lot of anything.”

“Health, family, friends, and this.” Thoennes said.

The Brainerd Community Dinner was free, but donations were accepted to help benefit the Brainerd Lakes Learning Center.

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