Brainerd Legion Seeking Help for Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner
The Brainerd American Legion is once again holding its annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Along with Legion Post 255, the Brainerd VFW, Elks, and Eagles organizations are also sponsoring the event.
The Community Thanksgiving Dinner has been going on for at least two decades, according to event organizers. Anyone can receive a plate free of charge, and it’s a fully loaded plate with turkey, veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy, a roll and, of course, a slice of pie. There will be a large amount of volunteers on Turkey Day, who will be a part of an efficient crew.
“Between [Tuesday], Wednesday and Thursday we’ll probably have 50-some volunteers working,” said Kevin Stunek, Past Commander with the American Legion Post 255. “And it’s a coordination of four service clubs: the Elks, the Eagles, the VFW and the Brainerd Legion. They all have a responsibility to do. The Brainerd Legion here is the hub.”
After the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legion no longer offered dine-in service. The sense of community and seeing your neighbor sit beside you as you both enjoy a free meal may be gone, but a greater good has come out of it.
“We used to have people sit inside and it used to be a feel-good thing with music playing, with Christmas trees up, but we can reach double the amount of people doing it this way,” said Thanksgiving Community Meal Chair Club Manager Janelle Sanderson. “And that’s what I tell everybody when they say, ‘Well, how come you can’t sit inside? It’s because we just have such a bigger reach.”
That bigger reach means that 1,500 meals can be given out, 1,500 meals that are picked up from the Legion or delivered across Crow Wing County, with the deliveries being made by some of Brainerd and Baxter’s bravest and finest.
“And I have Brainerd Fire here, Minnesota State Patrol, Crow Wing County Sheriff, Baxter Police, and Brainerd Police. And they all come in uniform with their squad cars and vehicles,” said Stunek. “We line up outside at 9:00 o’clock in the morning and we deliver throughout Crow Wing County.”
Giving back is an essential part of the holiday season. Some people take more joy out of helping others than helping themselves, which is what many people in Brainerd seem to be doing.
“I look forward to it every year, I’m proud of it,” added Sanderson. “I’m proud of how we’ve grown it, me and my group and all the volunteers. It’s something to be proud of.”
To learn more and how to volunteer for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, contact the Brainerd American Legion, Brainerd VFW, Brainerd Elks, or the Brainerd Eagles Club. Anyone interested in delivering meals can line up at the Brainerd Legion at 9:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.