Marion has had a community Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day for each of the past 22 years, but it appears likely it won’t make it to 23 years.
Committee member Laurie Miesse said there hasn’t been a new person on the committee for several years, and it is a struggle to get new people interested. Meanwhile, attendance has declined each of the past few years. The debut dinner in 1990 had 137 guests. Attendance peaked in 1998 with 360 guests. There were 145 in 2011, Miesse said Monday.
“We really appreciate what everybody does, but it’s a struggle,” she said. “Everybody is so busy, they just don’t have time for another meeting.”
The community Thanksgiving dinner began as a way to serve people who didn’t have anywhere else to go or maybe didn’t have a meal, Miesse said. From that beginning, it grew to serve as a fellowship gathering.
Miesse said the meal has always had enough volunteers and food donations, but sometimes it took until the day of the dinner to reach that point. At times it felt like she had to beg people to donate or volunteer.
With decreasing attendance, there has been a corresponding decrease in donations for the Marion Ministerial Alliances “helping hands” fund, which provides assistance for people in need.
“We just kind of wonder if it hasn’t run its course,” Miesse said.
Miesse left the door open to the dinner returning in 2013 if there are fresh volunteers, but the 2012 dinner being canceled looks like a done deal.