BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – There was a dancing turkey, a guitarist, and hundreds of volunteers putting out a Thanksgiving feast Thursday that fed more than 1,000 residents.
Savanna Collier, of Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce, is one of the coordinators of the event and said it was the first time the Fort Madison Community Thanksgiving served more than 1,000 meals.
“We served just over 1,000 people, right at about 1,025 and we had about 300 people dine in, which is more than last year,” Collier said.
She attributed the increase in dine-in meals to a raffle that was added this year. Everyone who came in to eat a meal received a raffle ticket and every hour they drew a ticket and awarded a grocery card.
“I think that helped with the dine-in numbers this year,” she said. “And I think it kept people hanging around and enjoying themselves a little longer, too.”
The committee usually begins about eight weeks before the holiday to plan and start to gather donations. Then a hotline is set up for people to call in to have food delivered, or to volunteer time on Thanksgiving or the prep days leading up to the holiday.
Collier said a complete list of those that donated to the event hasn’t been compiled yet. But she said the event wouldn’t be as successful as it is without all the donations of food and time.
She said this year volunteer turnout was very good with families from all around the area stopping in to assist with prep, cooking, serving, and clean up.
“We even had one family come in on Thursday with 12 people to jump in and help.”
As is tradition, meals were also taken to area first responders on shift including fire, police, and EMS staff.