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Community Thanksgiving dinner to bring food to those in need


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A volunteer serves food at the “Community Thanksgiving Dinner”. | Courtesy Idaho Falls Salvation Army.

IDAHO FALLS — For the past almost 32 years, the Idaho Falls Salvation Army and volunteers have been expressing gratitude on Thanksgiving by giving back to the community with a feast.

The tradition continues this year and on Thursday, community members are welcome to pull up a chair and enjoy a free meal.

“We saw the need in the community,” Major Orpha Moody of The Salvation Army said. “So the Salvation Army partnered up with different entities to help us deal with it.”

Those different organizations include missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the First Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, St Luke’s Episcopal Church and others.

Moody estimates there will be roughly 120 people who lend a hand at the dinner. The volunteers work shifts and do everything from prepping, serving, delivery driving and cleaning up afterward.

Jaymie Bassett has attended The Salvation Army with her mom and grandma since she was 16. She fell away from the church for a while and spent time in Seattle where she was homeless. Bassett made her way back to Idaho Falls in April and decided to get involved with The Salvation Army again.

“I’ve been helped before, and me being a Christian, it’s the way to give back because it’s a pay it forward kind of thing,” Bassett said. “I just love doing it. I mean, if I could do this 365 days a year, I would.”

Community Thanksgiving Dinner. | Courtesy Idaho Falls Salvation Army.

Moody and her husband know that Thanksgiving is about being selfless. The couple spent over 30 years in various locations helping put on Thanksgiving meals.

“Thanksgiving is about sharing with each other not ourselves. It’s about being with people,” Moody said. “When you think about the beginning of Thanksgiving, it was Indians and the Pilgrims getting together with different people from different walks of life and different ethnicities and they’re all getting together to have this big feast. So it makes sense that we would do that here because it’s a community…It’s like a big family.”

Anyone can attend the celebration, volunteer or donate food and money. Moody said donated items that go along with a Thanksgiving dinner, like turkeys, hams and whipped cream, will be put on the table. What isn’t used will be stored in the food bank and available for those in need at Christmas.

The dinner runs from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. with doors opening at 11:20 a.m. There is also a home delivery option if someone is unable to make it in person and doesn’t have funds to buy their own food. A meal can be delivered to them if they get on the list by calling The Salvation Army at (208) 522-7200. The deadline to sign up for a delivery is Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m.

Dinner will be served at the Idaho Falls Elks Lodge at 640 East Elva Street. Moody pointed out that even the Elks Lodge is chipping in by donating the venue free of charge.

“It’s seriously a community effort,” Moody said. “It’s not just us.”

Other locations in east Idaho offering free meals

Blackfoot’s Community Dinner Table will serve Thanksgiving dinner at 1 p.m. at the Jason Lee Methodist Church.

The Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen will serve a meal from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Island Park will put on a community dinner from 2-8 p.m. at the Lakeside Lodge.