Making this holiday festive for everybody is a worthy goal

Thanksgiving is an immensely popular American holiday. It features family get-togethers, immense quantities of food to consume, parades and, of course, football games.

On Thursday, thousands of people in our region gathered around tables with relatives and friends for a traditional feast. They consumed turkeys, stuffing, corn, cranberries, green bean casseroles, pies and all kinds of other delicious things.

But some of our neighbors couldn’t afford such a meal. Perhaps some lost a job. Their financial picture didn’t include the means for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Still others were all alone for the holiday and couldn’t justify putting together a big meal.

Those factors, however, did not mean they had to miss out on Thanksgiving dinner. Here in Fort Dodge, their neighbors volunteered time and energy to hold two free Thanksgiving dinners for anyone who couldn’t afford one or wanted some company on the holiday. Some of those volunteers rose before the sun on Thursday to make sure everything was done just right.

The Salvation Army in Fort Dodge has held a Thanksgiving dinner every year for decades. That feat was repeated Thursday, serving hundreds of people.

More recently, the Johnson family — Casey, Deb, Matt, Abigail, Isabella, Nick and Jordan — began holding a Thanksgiving dinner at their business, Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, and also had delivered meals to people who were home-bound. They came through again on Thursday, serving more than 2,000 people, about half of which were consumed in the camaraderie of the dealership’s showroom.

The huge gathering at Fort Dodge Ford, however, is much more than the Johnson family, thanks to the community. It is a collaborative event with many people contributing to its success.

A number of local businesses and groups helped make this Thanksgiving tradition a truly community undertaking. Among them this year were Community Orchard, Friendship Haven, Hy-Vee, Candies and More, Great Western Dining Service, Lynch Farms, Aramark, Noon Sertoma, Becker Florist, Great Western Bank and musician Tracy Ernst.

Warranting particular note and praise are the culinary arts students and faculty at Iowa Central Community College. The students prepared the meal under the guidance of Program Director Chef Michael Hirst. And a magnificent feast it truly is every year.

These efforts to ensure that as many Fort Dodgers as possible have a joyous holiday is very much in the tradition of Iowans helping Iowans, Americans helping other Americans.

The Messenger salutes all those who helped make these wonderful gatherings possible. In this season of Thanksgiving, we thank you.