The community came together to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with friends and family during the annual Thanksgiving in the Valley Thursday.
After volunteers arrived at the Guadalupe Center around 8 a.m., they worked to set up tables, and set up warming bins for all the Thanksgiving fixings from turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and stuffing to an assortment of dessert pies like apple, cherry and pumpkin.
Volunteers lined up in the kitchen to package Thanksgiving meals for delivery around the valley ahead of opening to the public at 11 a.m. Kendra Feather, who has helped organize the event for 18 years, said volunteers packaged a record 487 meals for delivery.
“It took us just under 2 hours. About an hour and 45 minutes to do all of them,” Feather said. “We’re actually up 100, so this was a record year.”
Thanksgiving in the Valley volunteers delivered 487 meals, 143 meals were carried out and 233 meals were served at the center. That’s 863 Thanksgiving meals served across the valley, which is up from 750 meals last year.
Members of the Scottsbluff Bearcats basketball team volunteered their time Thursday to help serve and deliver meals.
“It’s a way for us to give back to the community that supports our high school,” senior Sam Clarkson said. “It feels good to give back because there’s always going to be someone who needs help.”
Once they arrived at the center, Clarkson said, “We filled up cups with the cranberry Jell-O, filled the bread bowl bags and carried the delivery meals to people’s cars.”
From their involvement, the Bearcats said they felt more fortunate for what they have.
Jocelyn Wesner, Jamie Rose Chen and Aleigh Portenier also volunteered at the Guadalupe Center, taking turns handing out dishes to the public through the kitchen service window. With smiles on their faces, the girls said they were grateful to help their community and wish others a happy Thanksgiving.
Volunteers prepared meals for adults and children before the public grabbed their milk, roll and dessert. For Chayton Poor Bear, his favorite part about Thanksgiving is the food.
“I like the food,” Poor Bear said. “My favorite is the pie. I’m thankful for my meal.”
Jerry McClenahan also enjoyed his meal, despite traveling through the snow to the center. He has been to Thanksgiving in the Valley for a couple years.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I don’t let a little cold stop me and get between me and a plate of turkey.”
As McClenahan enjoyed his meal, he said he felt the attendance was not like last year.
“I know it’s a little early still, but it looks a little lower,” he said. “I was here last year and the line was out the door. I don’t know if it’s down because of the cold, so maybe more people got it delivered, since they do a home delivery, because of the cold.”
Feather said around 200 volunteers helped make this year’s Thanksgiving in the Valley a success, including people who cooked, served, delivered and organized the meal.
“We never lack for volunteers,” she said.
As another successful meal was delivered across the valley, Feather hopes the Guadalupe Center provided a place for fellowship.
“I just don’t want people to be alone and to be able to come and celebrate Thanksgiving and fellowship,” Feather said.