Moments in Time
By Morgan Smith
As we finish overindulging ourselves with candy from Halloween, we settle into the idea of Thanksgiving. A day of gathering with those we care about and sharing a meal reflecting on what we’re thankful for.
In 2005, Jim Doepken “thought Girdwood was a community in which a community meal would work,” he explains. The event wasn’t to be a fundraiser. It didn’t have a purpose other than just bringing people together for Thanksgiving. The event also helped all of the newer residence recently moved to Girdwood for winter work get a chance to meet other community members. Since Jim was not only the Pastor at Girdwood Chapel, but the Chaplain for the Girdwood Fire Department, it only seemed natural bringing the two organizations together to help conduct this Community Thanksgiving dinner.
So for several years they held the dinner in the equipment bay at the fire station with the vehicles pulled out. Chief Bill Chadwick would make his famous deep-fried turkey and others were encouraged to bring something, but there was always food leftover. Jim would distribute the leftovers to those who could use it. He also took food to the ski patrol the following day to make sure the food didn’t go to waste and was used for a good cause.
Around 60 people attended the community dinner in the first few years with the event reaching over 100 attendees at times. So once the community center was built and open, the dinner was moved there. The year the Girdwood Fire Department got its addition, the event was held in the Girdwood Chapel off Timberline. Even though throughout the years the location hasn’t always been consistent, the premise is the same. Sharing a meal with those we cherish and a community we care so much about.
“My thought was that there are enough folks in Girdwood who are a long way away from family that it might be a nice community gesture to come together in the spirit of Thanksgiving and community. The people of Girdwood Chapel provided more turkeys than we could eat, the drinks, and all of the paper goods. It was fun. And it could not have been done without a lot of leg work from the Girdwood Fire Department and the Girdwood Chapel,” Doepken notes.
Terry Sherwood, longtime volunteer and participant, filled me in on some current Community Thanksgiving dinner details. Currently back to being held at the Girdwood Fire Department in their spacious kitchen, they were able to support over 400 attendees last year. As participation grew, the concern for their ability to provide fresh food for the whole event. Three years ago, they asked the community to assist in providing side dishes.
“It’s really become a real community event,” Sherwood says. “Girdwood Chapel and the Girdwood Fire Department do all the organizing and other non-profits in town pitch in by supplying side dishes and serving. Last year we had several local musicians provide music during the event.”
This year the Community Thanksgiving Dinner is being held on Wednesday, November 27 from 3-8 p.m. at Girdwood Fire Hall. All are invited to attend and participate. And a big thank you goes out to all of those who donate and volunteer. This holiday season we are thankful for you and all that you do for the community.