SOUTH FORK—The annual Kiwanis Thanksgiving dinner was a huge success for the holiday with more than 400 people in attendance throughout the day. The South Fork Community Building was packed to the brim with hungry guests for the 16th year in a row as the last details were put into place by several area volunteers.
The aroma inside the building was enough to get anyone’s appetite rumbling for the coming feast. Volunteers lined the kitchen preparing the many dishes that were going to be served as cars began to fill the parking lot outside.
The dinner began as a way for the South Fork Kiwanis branch to jump start the holiday season and begin collecting for several holiday events for children and families in need. Every year the branch collects enough money to fund Christmas parties for three Valley schools that include gifts for students and a chance to visit with Santa before heading off on their Christmas vacations. The branch supplies everything needed for the parties including light snacks, books for the fourth grade classes and small stuffed toys for Center and Del Norte head starts.
In addition to collecting money for the Christmas parties, the branch also collects food and lightly used clothing for families in need. The collection boxes near the community center entrance began to fill as the day wore on with everything from brand new winter coats to canned goods and non-perishable items. People came in with their arms laden with things to give to those in need. Kiwanis member Karen Miller stated that the dinner is not possible without the help of several local volunteers and organizations who show up for the event without fail. “I don’t know how we could do this without the help of everyone who comes,” said Miller.
With funds left over from the Christmas parties, the branch works with local food banks to help fill baskets of food for those in need, and some of the funding also goes to the summer migrant worker program. The program has been a huge success in the past thanks to the generous donations from several organizations including the South Fork Kiwanis. Many families who come to the Valley as migrant workers during the harvest receive hygiene kits through the program and could potentially go without if not for the program.
The dinner takes all year to prepare for and continues to grow as the years go by. About a week before the event, volunteers gather at the Del Norte Elementary cafeteria to begin preparing for the feast. A staggering amount of food is prepared and cooked for the feast before it is moved in trucks over to the community center on Thanksgiving Day. Now that the meal has been served and donations have been collected the real work begins as the branch and volunteers gather to spread the joy of Christmas to those in need. A huge thanks goes out to everyone who helped this year or donated during the event!