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Something to be grateful for... a warm meal

No need to feel left out and all alone on Thanksgiving -- good food and fellowship can be found from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Detroit Lakes.

That wonderful smell wafting through the church Thursday morning will come from a few dozen turkeys cooking in roasters.

"Everything is cooked Thursday morning -- we have turkey roasters all over the place," laughed Patti Spry, the youth minister in charge of the meal.

As they have for the past five years, church youth and adult volunteers will be preparing and serving a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. No reservations are needed.

"If you're truly a shut-in, we do deliver," Spry said. "You just need to call and let us know." The phone number is 847-1393.

On the menu is turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, carrots, sweet potatoes, rolls, pie and more.

"The youth generally work the service line and visit with guests," Spry said. "Adults also help out -- there's a lot that happens in the kitchen, starting at about 5:30 a.m."

Actually, some things happen even sooner. Tuesday evening, a half dozen or so church members got together to make 20 apple pies, something they do every year, Spry said. "They like to do it and they have a good time," she said.

The pies are cooked Wednesday evening, along with 20 pumpkin pies made by church members as part of an annual fund-raiser.

Also, two women come in early and take care of the sweet potatoes, Spry said.

"We didn't even have to ask them, they just wanted to know when they should come in -- it's become a well-oiled machine."

In all, about 30-50 volunteers will serve perhaps 350 guests -- up from 125 guests at the first Holy Rosary Thanksgiving meal five years ago, Spry said. The church also served 65 meals to shut-ins last year, working with the Senior Nutrition Center.

"It's wonderful to have everybody working together, giving the gift of ministry back to people," she said.

The philosophy behind the meal is "always to try to reach out to those in need and those who will be alone," Spry said. "This is a good place for people to come -- a good old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner."

There is always plenty of food, so people shouldn't worry about that, Spry added. "People are very generous," about donating food and money, she said.

The Thanksgiving meal was started at Holy Rosary by Father Jerry Rogers as a youth event.

"Kids come and really do a lot," Spry said, "there's a good mixture, it's very intergenerational, from the very young to the very old."

Young people and other volunteers will cook the meal, serve the guests, do the dishes, and clean up the mess afterwards, she said.

"We've been blessed, we've never had a horrendous snowstorm," Spry said. "I'm holding my breath," she added with a laugh.