MARQUETTE -In the spirit of Thanksgiving, many local residents gave up a traditional Turkey Day and opted to take part in community dinners.
Each year congregations at several area churches roll up their sleeves and - getting up as early as 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day - they prepare, serve and share with individuals and families who might otherwise be unable to celebrate this traditional American holiday.
The dinners are a good option for many people, according to Elaine Racine, a volunteer for the Bethel Luthern Church of Ishpeming. She said guests included widows and an elderly couples without family in the area.
Volunteers across the area gathered Thursday to help with community dinners. Workers at Marquette’s St. Mark’s Lutheran Church dish up food. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Attendants at Ishpeming’s Bethel Lutheran Church go through a buffet line. Each dinner had about 150 people in attendance. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"People don't come here for just the food," said Racine, who was helping with the community dinner held at Bethel. "They come for the fellowship."
When Racine found herself alone on a previousThanksgiving following a serious injury, she vowed to help those who would otherwise be alone on the holidays.
"Twenty-eight years ago I had a brain aneurysm. I was flown up to the Mayo Clinic. My boys were little, I was all alone and I felt sorry for myself. Then you realized that you're not the only one alone so I decided if I lived I was going to do something so people weren't alone on Thanksgiving," Racine said.
Racine started the community dinner 27 years ago with a small number of volunteers and only 35 people showed up for the meal. The event had 15 volunteers this year and Racine estimated 150 people were in attendance.
In the city of Marquette, St. Mark's Lutheran Church served coffee and juice, followed by a Thanksgiving dinner, according to Edith Prosen of Marquette.
Prosen has been volunteering at the community dinners for 20 years.
The St. Mark's dinner has been in around for 34 years.
Prosen expected around 150 people this year. Her reason for participating is simple.
"I just like people to be happy on Thanksgiving," she said.
She received help from 40 to 50 volunteers to help with the dinner.
Matt Keiser can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.