A meal for masses

Countdown to Prom

by Zach DeBruin

“I do it because I think there are people that don’t get to be with family or friends on the day of Thanksgiving, and they don’t want to cook a big meal for one or two people,” said Prairie City community member Lori DeBruin. “It’s also possible that some may become a bit blue on that day without family.”

For eight years now, the DeBruin family and other Prairie City residents have been putting on a free Thanksgiving day meal for the town. For the first six years the meal was held at First Reformed Church in Prairie City, but for the last two years it’s been held at Grace Alive church.

“My very large family has moved our Thanksgiving Day meal to the Saturday before Thanksgiving for may years now. That left me feeding close friends and family in my home on Thanksgiving day. After a few years, it got crowded at my house, so we moved it to the church and, well, as they say, the rest is history,” said DeBruin.

People from the community come to this meal to socialize and fellowship with local friends and family members. It’s a free way to get a good meal and some time to become closer with the people in the community. It may come at a bit of a cost for the workers, though. It’s not easy to make a meal for around 80 people and keep it hot for an entire day.

“We prepared 12 turkeys, 30 pounds of mashed potatoes, one large ham, 12 batches of green bean casserole, 12 corn casseroles, sweet potatoes and stuffing. My generous friends and family donated all the desserts and salads. My co-workers at the Iowa Heart Center/Mercy Hospital have, since the beginning, donated all the turkeys. I’m not sure I could do it without them,” said DeBruin.

Even though it is stressful work that takes quite a while to prepare, everyone who helps make the meal is just as satisfied as the people who come to eat.

“To be honest, I mostly benefit from it. I get the blessing of sharing a day with others, feeding them until they are stuffed and still getting to be with my own family that serves along with me. But I also hope that the people that come, or have a meal delivered to them, get some benefit as well,” said DeBruin.

This Thanksgiving tradition is one that will be carried on, for the sake of the community, for years to come. Every person who took part in the meal, whether they ate the food or made it, had a huge smile and realized what they were thankful for by the end of the day.