Gallery: Hundreds gather for community Thanksgiving dinner

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More than 200 Thanksgiving meals were delivered to New Richmond area residents and another 150 more guests enjoyed a community Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Thursday, Nov. 23.

Working with a skimpier than usual crew of volunteers, organizer Rhonda Bierbrauer began meal preparations at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening peeling more than 240 pounds of potatoes and roasting 20, 20-pound turkeys.

"Our family style dinners kind of blew up this year. Four or more people, I consider a family. For every single take out, there are three containers, one with all their cold in it, one will have vegetables in it and one will have their turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy in it. We had somewhere around 125 volunteers between Wednesday night, today and my delivery people," said Bierbauer.

At 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, volunteers picked up where the night crew left off. Giant pots of boiling potatoes and pans filled with squash occupied the commercial stoves and ovens in the church kitchen. Experienced volunteers taught newbies, age worked alongside youth, as some 30 volunteers shared in everything from mashing potatoes and making stuffing to washing pots and plating hundreds of slices of pie.

First to go out the door were boxes filled with turkey dinners complete with all the fixings destined for delivery to homebound families care of a small army of volunteer drivers. Home deliveries completed, the volunteers focused on the meals soon to be shared with more than 150 sit-down guests gathering about the long line of tables in the dining room.

As the clock struck 1 p.m., volunteers began streaming out of the kitchen with bowls of mashed potatoes and tureens of gravy followed in short order by platters of steaming hot turkey. The chaos of conversation melted quickly into a satisfied silence, proof that all of their work had been worth it.