Larry Akin and his wife, Maurine, realized in early November that they hadn’t heard whether the free annual community Thanksgiving dinner would be happening this year. After being unable to …
Larry Akin and his wife, Maurine, realized in early November that they hadn’t heard whether the free annual community Thanksgiving dinner would be happening this year. After being unable to find an answer, and with others asking the same question, Larry called the Park County Fairgrounds and learned the dinner had been canceled. So, he called up the man who spearheaded last year’s dinner.
“I asked him, ‘If we were to step in and lead, would you help us?’ and he said ‘I’d be happy to,’” Larry recalled. “We just believed that it needed to happen. They [community members] need it, they want it and they appreciate it.
“We believe in this community enough, that if someone provided guidance … the legwork, the community could step up and we could do it,” he said.
The community has since stepped up big, Larry said, and the community Thanksgiving dinner will return from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday at Heart Mountain Hall.
Larry said the Powell Ministerial Association, which spearheaded the event for years through 2022, has not only helped but also provided seed money to get this year’s event going; members of churches affiliated with the association have also leant a hand.
“Plans and preparations for the dinner are proceeding well,” Larry said midway through last week. “Community members, businesses and churches have been extremely generous. The response from all has been extremely positive. The combined efforts of all are making this happen. This is a tremendous tribute to our community.”
Larry added that he and his wife have discovered how many local people are involved in charitable organizations and causes.
“This community has overwhelmingly gotten behind us,” he said. “So many people have called and said, ‘What can I do?’ People want to provide food, work, serve, give money. It’s going to happen thanks to this community.”
Larry said he and Maurine aren’t thinking of taking over the annual event, they just wanted to step in this year to keep it going. But they’re ready to return as volunteers and help out going forward.
The First United Methodist Church started the dinner more than 30 years ago as a way to feed Northwest College athletes and international students who couldn’t go home for the holiday. But it’s morphed into a community-wide event where everyone is welcome to share a meal and fellowship.
The Akins said they just didn’t want to see an event with so much history and importance go away.
“It is a lot of work, but I retired in July and I have the time to do something like this right now, and it’s very rewarding to do this; my wife and I have lived here almost 40 years, and we’ve met people we never knew before,” Larry said. “We have been blessed and rewarded to get to do it.”
For questions about pies, contact Marybeth Richardson at 307-754-5399. Contact Larry with all other questions — including when and where to deliver other food items and when and where to report to your assigned area to help. Those who would like a meal delivered to their home should reach out Larry by tonight (Tuesday) at 307-254-0389.
All donations given that exceed the costs of the event — the Akins have an accountant working the books — will be donated to a local charity.