Feulings prepare for Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     A long-standing tradition in Monticello would not be possible without the many dedicated volunteers, especially those who lead the event, Terry and Bruce Feuling.

     The free Community Thanksgiving Dinner has been an ongoing event for over 20 years. The Feuling family has led the efforts for the past 10 years. Recently, their cohorts, Dale and Grace Zimmerman, stepped down.

     “We couldn’t be more honored for all of the time and energy they have brought to the team,” praised Terry Feuling.

     This year, there are some returning and new faces assisting in the Thanksgiving efforts: Dennis and Jeannie McCall, who have been helping for the last 15 years, and Luke and Heather McDonald.

     “Volunteers are gold,” said Feuling. “We cannot do this on our own.”

     Planning for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner takes some time. This event not only feeds over 200 people, but patrons are coming to dine in as well as carry-out or request home-delivered meals.

     So when you ask Feuling what goes into planning for this dinner she simply says, “Lots!”

     They start off with a team meeting after the previous dinner, talking about what did and did not work well.

     Then, the Monticello Berndes Center at the fairgrounds is booked for the next year. This year, Feuling said are thankful that the Berndes Center is donating the use of the building for free.

     The Feulings attend First Presbyterian Church, so they make sure they can have use of the church’s roasters and cooking equipment for the dinner as well.

     Flyers are made and distributed. Advertisements and articles are secured with the Express.

     Then, as the weeks get closer to Thanksgiving, an inventory is taken of supplies in stock.

     ‘We buy everything unless we have been blessed with donations,” said Feuling.

     Since adverting the dinner and giving out their home phone number for reservations and donations, Feuling joked that their phone has been ringing off the hook.

     “All I can say is our phone hasn’t stop ringing since the first ad came out in the Express,” she said.

     Their budget starts at zero and builds based on donations. This year, despite the blessing of some cash donations, Feuling said their funds have been a little low compared to previous years.

     “Bruce and I decided that no matter what comes in, we would cover whatever is needed,” she graciously said. “That’s what it is all about.”

     They use as many volunteers as humanly possible for the big day.

     “Volunteers are what make this dinner work,” said Feuling.

     Volunteers are always needed to help set the tables and chairs up, wash dishes, packing food for deliveries or carry-out orders, serving the guests family style, physically delivering the meals, and manning the food stations of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.

     Feuling said one donation that is always greatly appreciated is dessert.

     “As everyone knows pies are what complete the dinner,” she said.

     This year, she ordered many pies from the Presbyterian Pie Ladies. “Everyone loves their pies,” she boasted.

     They also are in need of large fruit/banana boxes for deliveries.

     For those who just show to volunteer, Feuling said you will be put to work.

     After moving to Monticello 11 years ago, not knowing anyone, the Feuling family quickly became part of the community.

     “We can’t imagine not being a part of this wonderful dinner. We are firm believers in volunteering.”

     Feuling admitted that planning a massive community dinner like this was hard on them after their daughter passed away two years ago.

     “We made a promise and tend to keep that promise unless something happens,” Feuling said. However, despite the family’s loss, they picked up and carried on to provide for the community.

     “Our lives had been shattered, but as a family we decided that we cannot give up on our community.” Feuling said on a personal note, hosting the Thanksgiving dinner that year was quite healing for her.

     She said so many patrons share stories about their own families when attending the dinner.

     “You don’t have to be related to come to our family dinner,” she said. “You walk through the door and you are not just a guest; you are our extended family.” (Walk-ins are also welcome and encouraged to attend, as they always have plenty of food.) “You will not walk away hungry,” added Feuling.

     To make last-minute reservations or to offer your volunteer service for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, contact the Feulings at 319-465-3219.


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