Rejoice Community Church holding 18th annual Thanksgiving dinner in Le Mars, IA

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 4:06 PM CST
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LE MARS, Iowa (KTIV) - Many people’s Thanksgiving traditions involve getting together with family and friends. But there are people across Siouxland who are worried about being alone this Thanksgiving.

A Le Mars, Iowa church is giving everyone who’s willing to come visit the opportunity to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.

At Rejoice Community Church, Thanksgiving is all about the community. For the past 18 years, they’ve held a community Thanksgiving dinner, where they serve 600 to 700 people each year. And the price for a meal is something everyone can afford.

“It might cost you a smile, a high five, something like that when you enter the door,” said Margaret Catton, a congregation member and volunteer at Rejoice Community Church who was largely responsible for organizing the dinner. “This is a free opportunity for the community to come together. You could be traveling, you know, a truck driver passing through town, or you just don’t have any family near. It’s wonderful for you to get together and enjoy friends, good food and fellowship. So we welcome all kinds.”

Over 50 people volunteer their time to help set up the dinner, including members of the congregation, local community members and kids in the church’s youth ministry program. Between them, they contribute over 300 hours of work, and they say it’s a rewarding experience.

“[My favorite part is] definitely getting everything prepared and then hanging out with friends and serving food,” said William Elbert, a youth ministry program member and volunteer at Rejoice Community Church.

“I like helping out the community,” said Blake Keith, another youth ministry program member and volunteer. “It’s really fun too, and it’s nice to hang out with friends.”

To feed nearly 700 people, the church needs a substantial amount of food.

They get help from local sponsors, and from donations from members of the congregation.

In total, the dinner requires over 1,000 pounds of turkey, nearly 50 pounds of potatoes, as well as nearly 200 boxes of stuffing and cans of corn. They also use nearly 120 cans of cranberry sauce, slice about 100 pies, and scoop 10 gallons of ice cream for dessert.

This ensures they can provide a Thanksgiving meal to anyone who asks.

“There are just so many people who may not have family or friends around,” said Catton. “And just the opportunity to warm their hearts and fill their bellies is something that we love to do.”

The dinner runs on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rejoice Community Church in Le Mars.