Annual tradition: Hundreds enjoy free mealOn a blustery Thanksgiving with temperatures hovering below freezing, two men a world away from home were on their way to get Chinese food. That’s when Tom Boerger saw them and gave them a ride to a Jamestown Thanksgiving tradition.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
On a blustery Thanksgiving with temperatures hovering below freezing, two men a world away from home were on their way to get Chinese food.
That’s when Tom Boerger saw them and gave them a ride to a Jamestown Thanksgiving tradition.
Jonathon Lodge, Dublin, Ireland, and Dominic O’Connor, Manchester, England, were taken to Concordia Lutheran Church for the 23rd annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday.
“It’s basically another day, we don’t see it as a big deal,” Lodge said, with a clean plate in front of him. “Not that we don’t understand it, we just don’t celebrate it.”
While the two Jamestown College soccer players enjoyed their first Thanksgiving on American soil, others behind the scenes were more than willing to help serve others in search of fellowship.
Renay Kelbus handed out hundreds of buns of Thursday, the same routine as years past.
The self-described “bun lady” is a fixture at the community meal, offering a smile and conversation with every piece of bread.
“It’s just a tradition, we just do it,” Kelbus said. “I don’t know how I got to be the bun lady, but it’s just fun.”
Although she didn’t hand out all the 700 buns baked for the meal, she did come close. In total 586 meals were given away, at the church and delivered.
There were 506 pounds of turkey, 42 pies, 24 large cans of corn, eight gallons of cranberries and more than enough potatoes to match, with gravy and stuffing on the side.
“When you say happy Thanksgiving they always smile big,” Kelbus said. “ … And some of those people, no one probably ever wished them a happy Thanksgiving.”
And while the bun lady was dishing out sides, the potato man was behind the counter offering spoons full of spuds.
“I always enjoy it, that’s why I like to come back all the time,” said Mike Fergus, who’s been scooping mashed potatoes on plates since 1999.
Fergus spends his workdays in the kitchen at Ave Maria Village. But he still spends Thanksgiving as one of the centerpieces in another busy kitchen.
It’s an effort carried on by a dedicated group of volunteers who continue the goodwill gesture started by the late Fritz Buegel. Now troves of volunteers make the meal a Thanksgiving tradition of their own.
Tom Cooke, North Hampton, England, another Jamestown College soccer player, was at the church Thursday helping bring in and prepare the food.
“We have absolutely nothing,” Cooke said of Thanksgiving across the pond. “No holiday, no time off, nothing at all. It was a little bit of a shock when we came.”
Event organizers were a bit in shock as well on Thursday, with people lining up for food as early as 10:30 a.m.
“It shows there’s obviously a need for it and it’s great it can be provided,” Cooke said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org