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Volunteers serve hundreds of meals at annual community Thanksgiving dinnerSubmitted: 11/23/2017
WOODRUFF - As Father Aaron Devett gave his Thanksgiving Day sermon at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff Thursday morning, a service of a different kind was happening in the kitchen. 

"We kind of see these two feasts coming together," said Devett. 

Every year, volunteers cook, serve, and deliver meals to people for Thanksgiving. 

John Danner has been organizing the big meal for more than 20 years. When he first started, he was cooking for about 50 people, now it's nearly 600. 


While you might think all that work gets stressful, Danner says it's actually the opposite.

"Somebody can look and say, 'my god, how much work goes into this?' But it really is stress relief because if you enjoy what you're doing it eases your stress," said Danner. 

Between setting the tables, cooking the food, and serving the meal, it takes about 125 people to pull off the dinner. 

"We couldn't do this without the community supporting it," said Danner.

Devett says it's never been a problem finding that support in the six years he's been at the church.

"I think people, even if it's not fully totally conscious, there's that urge to give, to give back, to pay forward," said Devett. 

Devett focused his Thanksgiving Day sermon on finding gratitude in the little moments. 
 
"If we take today just to be where we are, at this meal, with these people. If we can take at least a moment with every individual who is our guest and just savor the smells, the taste, the sights, just the whole experience. At end of the day we have an accumulation of little moments of deeper gratitude, and just that emersion and awareness of life and our world," said Devett.

It's gratitude that Danner and the other volunteers can see on the faces of everyone that comes and enjoys the meal they've made.

"You go through the room and people are eating and you see smiles on their face and they all give you the thumbs up like this is the greatest meal we've had today," said Danner.


Story By: Katie Thoresen

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