When the November cold inevitably rolls in and the Halloween decorations come down, many of us turn our attention to the next holiday. Thanksgiving may be the most American holiday. It is hailed as a time of giving thanks and consuming copious amounts of turkey and stuffing. Maybe you don’t like the awkward dinner with extended family or the mountain of dishes that come after, but it is undeniable that this time of year comes with a beautiful warmness. The snow and ice dominate our rural countryside, but the season’s cheer keeps us nice and cozy. However, that warmth is not felt by all. Not everyone has a place to go on Thanksgiving or a delicious dinner with friends and family. This time of year is an excellent time to showcase staff living our values in and out of the workplace.
Doing for others
Alicia Ahrendt is a referrals and authorizations coordinator at Tri-County Health Care. She, like many members of staff, takes community involvement very seriously. For the last ten years, Alicia, along with a team of her fellow parishioners at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, put on a huge charity dinner for Thanksgiving.
In 2012, church organizers pulled together the big dinner in just three weeks. Since then, the event has become an even more efficient operation. Planning starts in early November, and dozens of hours go into this special dinner. The church organizers and volunteers serve hundreds of people on Thanksgiving Day, many of which can’t make their own Thanksgiving dinner or don’t have the ability to travel.
Alicia and the organizers ask for donations from the congregation and people attending the dinner. Guests may donate food items. All raised funds and food go to the Sebeka food shelf. The church even makes a matching donation of funds raised.
Alicia and Thanksgiving
“We serve the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, bread, and pie. The meal is completely free, but we ask for a free-will donation. We then donate all funds to the Sebeka food shelf – our church usually does a matching donation, as well. We generally serve about 200 meals that day. We ask, but don’t require, that those wanting a meal to call the church ahead of time to ‘reserve’ a meal, so we can plan as best as possible how much food we’ll need.” – Alicia Ahrendt
While discussing the dinner, Alicia was all glee! She remarked how this was one of her favorite days of the year. Church and cooking are a big part of her life, so the day brings all the things she loves together with peace toward others as the ultimate goal. “I love that we can donate to the food shelf, which is always needing funds to continue serving the community,” explained Alicia
COVID-19 won’t stop us!
The COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for organizers in 2020 and 2021. However, they still delivered meals, but it wasn’t the same as inviting community members for an evening of fellowship, good company, and delicious food. Alicia and the team have been hustling to get everything ready for their first in-person dinner in two years.
Community and living our values
Alicia is going above and beyond for her community. Tri-County Health Care celebrates the efforts of those who care for our patients and extend their kindness to their neighbors. She embodies living our values daily in the office, church, and home. Tri-County Health Care will be donating to the Thanksgiving Dinner in honor of her and the parishioners of her church. All funds go to help curb hunger in the Sebeka community.
The Thanksgiving Day meal runs from noon to 2 p.m. Food items can be given directly to organizers at the door. Monetary donations are submitted via check made to OSCL, with a note for Thanksgiving. Submit contributions to organizers during the dinner or mail them to:
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
401 2nd St SE
Sebeka, MN 56477