With the Halloween candy in the bag and Christmas merchandise appearing on shelves all over town, local organizers are making plans for Dodge City's community Thanksgiving dinner.
The dinner, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 22 at the National Guard Armory, is sponsored by the Dodge City Ministerial Alliance, New Hope on the Plains, the Salvation Army and numerous local churches and businesses.
A growing number of people have made the community dinner part of their Thanksgiving celebrations. Last year, a record number of Thanksgiving meals, over 500, were served.
"The meals were a real blessing to many during these hard times," said Vernon Bogart, president of the ministerial alliance.
In addition to meals served at the armory, meals are prepared to be delivered to those unable to attend in person.
The meal is served free of charge but donations are gratefully accepted.
With donations made at the armory and contributions made by churches and businesses in advance of the event, organizers are usually able to cover the costs of food and supplies. Any surplus is saved to help pay for next year's dinner.
The holiday feast includes turkey, dressing, all the trimmings, dessert and drink.
Yes, you can help
More than 100 volunteers work together to set up for the event, cook and serve the meal, then help with clean up and tear down.
Preparations for the event take place Wednesday evening beginning at 5 p.m.
Work begins at 8 a.m. Thursday morning.
If you'd like to help with any part of the preparations, call John Losero, volunteer coordinator, at (620) 253-8224.
Organizers also invite people to contribute cakes and pies for desserts. Those can be delivered to the armory on either Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning.
Monetary donations may be sent to the Dodge City Ministerial Alliance, P.O. Box 13, Dodge City, KS 67801.
"I'd like to thank each and every person, business and church that volunteered their time or made a monetary donation," Bogart said.
"This event really brings the community together — it speaks well for our community. We have people who come every year with their families and we also have people with no families who come. It's become a great thing."