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Tomahawk church prepares for free Thanksgiving mealSubmitted: 11/22/2017
TOMAHAWK - To sisters Kathy and Julia, Thanksgiving Day is about more than just turkey, potatoes, and prep work. 

"[It's] kind of always been a special holiday for my parents, who are no longer with us," said Julia Pankow. 

Kathy and Julia grew up in a large family with 11 other siblings, which meant a Thanksgiving Day meal was always as big in heart as it was in size.  


"My mom always had a big garden and she always did a lot of canning and we weren't allowed to have any of the canned goods until Thanksgiving Day, so Thanksgiving Day was a very special day for us," said Kathy VanRyen. 

It's been a day that Kathy and Julia have spent making special for others for the last 15 years or so. 

The sisters run a free Thanksgiving community dinner at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Tomahawk. 

"We always had room for one more person, and so that's kind of how it is here. There's always room for somebody," said VanRyen.

"I like the getting together, and I don't think anybody should be alone on Thanksgiving," said Pankow.

Kathy and Julia will tell you they're not only ones to thank. They say the dozens of volunteers helping prepare and serve food are the driving force behind the event. 

"Serving the food and we just enjoy doing it and just being around other people all the time. And just thankful we can help out and do things for other people," said volunteers Jerome and Ruth Warner. 

The sisters are doing things for others while keeping their family's tradition alive--one that means giving to your family, regardless of size. 
 
"Whether you have your own family, there's always someone that you can find that can be part of your family," said VanRyen.

The community Thanksgiving dinner starts Thursday at 11 a.m. and runs through 1 p.m. More than 250 people will likely be served tomorrow. Volunteers cooked 15 to 18 turkeys on Wednesday. 

You can contact St. Mary's Catholic Church for more information at 715-453-2878


Story By: Allie Herrera

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