Is it normal to start thinking about Thanksgiving in August? Probably not for most people, but when you are striving to continue a community tradition that spans over a decade, three months is barely enough time. On my first day of work in early August of 2017, we talked about Thanksgiving. I was told that this is a beloved event that relies on over 100 volunteers to feed hundreds of others and that it was on me to find these volunteers.
This was secretly terrifying to me. How do I approach people I don’t know and convince them to work on a holiday at an event that I’ve never even been to?
Luckily my fears did not last long. On August 23, an incredible individual called me and asked to be a server for the Thanksgiving meal. They called me! In August! Apparently, the WabiSabi team isn’t alone in thinking about Thanksgiving months in advance.
That phone call was one of my first times experiencing the big heart of this small town, and Thanksgiving quickly became my favorite time of the year.
2018 marks the 14th year that WabiSabi has offered a free by-donation community Thanksgiving. The majority of the meal will be prepared by Chef Ken Moody, of Moab Private Chef, while the desserts, drinks, and gallons of cranberry sauce are graciously donated by Moab favorites, such as Milts, Sweet Cravings, and Red Rock Bakery.
Who will eat all this amazing food, you ask? Anyone, and everyone! Last year nearly 700 people came and shared a meal: locals, travelers, families, friend groups, and individuals.
I am amazed by those who choose to give back by way of volunteering on Turkey Day. One hundred and sixteen people are signed up this year to serve food, wash dishes, roll silverware, and even drive food from the Grand Center to those in the community who are unable to leave their homes. It is a wonderful feeling to know that, although our town is small and a little isolated, we are able to create such a warm environment where individuals from every walk of life can come together and feel welcome.
So I’d say that this year I have a lot to be thankful for. Thank you to every individual who has volunteered to help with this Thanksgiving, as well as past Thanksgivings, including those I didn’t have any remaining jobs for. Thank you to those who have given financially to our Turkey Challenge; your contributions make this event possible. Thank you to the local businesses for your dessert and beverage donations, which will undoubtedly push the overly stuffed diners into a blissful food coma.
Thank you to those who drive meals to those who cannot make the journey themselves: you help ensure that everyone is fed and has a little company for the holidays.
And lastly, thank you to everyone who is even considering coming to eat at the Grand Center Nov. 22. If you don’t have any plans for this Thanksgiving, please know that you will be warmly welcomed at the WabiSabi Community Thanksgiving Meal.
We cannot wait to see you there!
Liz Donkersloot is a VISTA volunteer.