SOUTH FORK— Volunteers from all over the Valley are preparing for the annual South Fork Thanksgiving dinner as the day of the biggest feast in the area draws near.
The South Fork Community Center will be filled with tables lined with autumn decorated cloths, centerpieces that have been handmade and the nostalgic smells of the holiday season in only a few weeks’ time. The South Fork Kiwanis branch expects as many as 500 guests on Thanksgiving Day, making this event one of the largest and most demanding events the group plans for throughout the year.
The preparations begin about a week before Thanksgiving Day which falls on Nov. 23 this year, giving the volunteers and Kiwanis group seven days to get ready to serve a full course meal, including dessert to a massive crowd of people. Thirty turkeys are prepared and cooked in the kitchen at the Del Norte elementary school in preparation of the Thanksgiving feast.
The Kiwanis Club of South Fork has been hosting the annual dinner in celebration of the all-American holiday for several years. The club cooks, serves and collects donations for several of the area’s charities for Christmas and other programs throughout the year.
The club is always in need of volunteers for the day. The dinner begins on the morning of Thanksgiving and runs until about 2 p.m. A winter clothes drive is available throughout the dinner for those wishing to donate lightly used winter clothes for both adults and children. Clean jackets and warm winter clothes in fair condition are always welcome. Any donations made to the winter clothes drive go to families in need in and around South Fork as well as Del Norte. Kiwanis also accepts non-perishable food items during the Thanksgiving festivities.
Funds donated to the Kiwanis club also go on to help hold special Christmas parties for children ages kindergarten to fourth grade in Del Norte and Center schools. The parties are spread out over four days in the middle of December. Each child receives a gift that is given to them by non-other than old St. Nick himself. Donations purchase close to 400 gifts for area children. Food, games and special prizes are also purchased for the parties. The fourth grade classes receive dictionaries.
The remaining funds not used for the Christmas parties go toward other programs in the Valley. Donations from Kiwanis are given to food banks and to make food baskets for families in need in South Fork. Also, a migrant worker program receives leftover funds for the following year’s workers. The program helps place workers in homes and provides them with food services for the time they are working in the Valley. That widely utilized program has helped families for several years locally.
Though the dinner is free for anyone wishing to attend, Kiwanis accepts donations at the door for those wanting to help in future projects. The dinner will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving. For more information or to volunteer, contact Karen Miller at 873-5466.