Forget the 9 a.m. posted start time for Kachemak Bay Lions Thanksgiving Basket Program’s packing of food boxes on Saturday. The parking lot outside the fellowship hall of Homer United Methodist Church, where the activity was taking place, was filled with eager volunteers long before the clock’s short hand pointed to 9 and the long hand pointed to 12.
Lions Club members had arrived even earlier, stacking up empty boxes, each one bearing a note indicating the size of a specific family for which the box, once filled with food, was destined. They had sorted food on tables lining the room. Above each table, directions had been posted indicating how much of this and how much of that should go in each box.
Elder Newman and Elder Juarez, missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, worked side by side, making their way along the tables of food, carefully paying attention to the directions.
Following right behind them came Ensign Will Nipp of the USCGC Hickory, spending his morning helping with the effort.
Then came the three-person team of Sarah Wolf and brothers Evan and Zane Boyer, students of Homer High School, each carrying a box they were filling with food as directed.
All in all, a crowd of volunteers spent the morning filling 220 boxes with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner. In the afternoon, recipients of the boxes from Homer, Anchor Point and Ninilchik were gifted with the community-wide effort to ensure Thursday is a Thanksgiving to remember.
Community meals prepared by local businesses and organizations are another way the southern Kenai Peninsula celebrates Thanksgiving. In the past, the Salvation Army Church has organized a potluck for the Sunday before Thanksgiving, but that didn’t happen this year due to the number of members who are currently traveling, according to Lt. Christin Frankhauser.
Instead, Frankhauser was among those helping with the Lions Club program Saturday morning.
The Caribou Family Restaurant also has served a holiday meal in past years, but will be closed this Thanksgiving.
However, there are others who are maintaining the long-standing tradition of inviting the public to share in Thanksgiving celebrations. One, the American Legion in Ninilchik, gets a jump on the holiday by serving its Thanksgiving meal a day early on Wednesday, Nov. 26.
Wednesday, Nov. 26
American Legion Post 18
As she has for the past two years, Sam Clucas is once again preparing the American Legion’s community holiday meal in Ninilchik. It’s free and with all that Clucas has planned, there’s no need to bring a dish to share.
“There’ll be turkey, ham and all the trimmings. Lots of food. We pretty much have everything covered,” said Clucas. “Bring the family.”
In addition to food, there also will be door prizes and maybe a raffle.
The fun is planned for 5-7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 27
Down East Saloon
59909 East End Road
The crew at Down East Saloon is preparing turkey and/or ham, as well as a couple of salads for a free Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a potluck, so the public is invited, but not required, to bring a dish to share. The food is served at 3 p.m., and there’ll be football on television.
Homer United Methodist Church
770 East End Road
Church members are preparing a full-on Thanksgiving community meal. It will be held in the church’s fellowship hall, so enter through the downstairs door. There’s no need to bring a dish or call ahead. The meal will be served between 5-7 p.m.
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 10221
72551 Milo Fritz Ave. Anchor Point
The members of VFW Post 10221 in Anchor Point are preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Being a member of the post is not required; the invitation is open to the public. While there is always plenty of food to go around, additional food items gladly will be added to the spread, with serving beginning at 3 p.m.