TRAVERSE CITY — Georgia Jasinski was especially grateful to attend a Thanksgiving dinner at Grawn United Methodist Church this year. Two days earlier a terrible car accident sent the Mancelona resident to the hospital.
“I’m just glad I’m alive,” she said.
She’s also thankful for the atmosphere the church provided to its diners.
“I like the people, the community and that we have togetherness and love and food that we’ve all prepared for each other. Most of all, I’m thankful I’m able to enjoy this and be a part of this,” Jasinski said.
People across the Grand Traverse region expressed thanks during the eponymous holiday. Churches in the area, like the one in Grawn and Trinity Lutheran Church in Traverse City, provided a haven for people who otherwise would have been alone or in the cold on Thanksgiving.
“We open it up to really anybody who wants to have a nice, cozy family atmosphere dinner,” said Laura Reed, the Thanksgiving coordinator at Grawn United Methodist Church, which served nearly 100 people.
The meal at Trinity Lutheran Church, provided by the Community Meals Program, used 20 turkeys as well as ham. Gwen Stokes, the organizer of volunteers and deliveries, said that somewhere between 300 and 500 people were served at the church. Volunteers delivered another 650 meals to people’s homes, she said, a number that in other years reached nearly 1,000.
About 200 volunteers helped Stokes with meals and organizing, and so many more people offered that she had to turn them away.
“It’s rewarding work and just reminds you to be thankful,” said Toni Sober, one of the volunteers. “I get a great feeling from helping out other people.”
Other volunteers had heartwarming experiences. Margaret Kral, a junior at Central Senior High School who was doling out food on her birthday, was thrilled with one interaction in particular.