"I'm just happy to be here and to be blessed to still be able to do this", he said. "You can see the people and know that you're helping these people to avoid loneliness and segregation. People step up and donate their time and their money", said Reitzel, a member of the church committee overseeing the event. The dinner included turkey, mashed potatoes, cobber and other traditional fixings.
Among the volunteers was Stephine Limon, of Topeka; her husband, Marc Limon, and the couple's children Nola, 17, and Vador, 8.
The manager said the volume of the Thanksgiving Day deliveries shows what the power of working together for a good cause can achieve. "This is how we spend our Thanksgiving". "I grew up here and as a kid you don't really realize how much is involved in community giving and what we need out of the community to help people in town". A free will donation will be gratefully accepted, and all proceeds will go to either a non-profit organization and/or funds for a medical benefit to help a member of the community. "I used to cook and feed everybody when I could", says Beth Hampton, a meal recipient. "I'm just keeping the tradition going". More than 250 meals were also home-delivered by volunteers.
Bags lined the tables in the truck bay of the fire station with names and addresses of people in need of a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day and police and fire vehicles were loaded for delivery by the first-responders.
Of course it's a lot of work Calder said, but it only takes one for her to keep her motivation to do it another year.
The Onalaska Enhancement Foundation put on the city's annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday.
Among those who played a vital role in the dinner from the 1970s through the 1990s was Grant Cushinberry, known throughout Topeka for his philanthropy and service to others throughout the years. He worked with Reitzel, getting food ready for the meals being delivered.
Dave Rankin helped to coordinate the dinner, which has been held each year for 23 years.
"It takes a lot of work from a lot of people", Taylor said.
"Gloria makes a wonderful meal", he said. "His whole deal was nobody should be eating alone on Thanksgiving".
Some people say this dinner is more than just about food. "I see people here each year that I saw last year, but there's always new people", he said.