Anyone without a family to share a Thanksgiving meal with on Thursday, Nov. 28, who likes the feel of a community Thanksgiving celebration or who enjoys a bar setting to celebrate the holiday has some options to chose from on Thursday, and they’re all free.
The Community Thanksgiving in Lakehills, and the largest one in Bandera County, will be held for an eighth straight year by Antonio Quesada, his family and scores of volunteers who have made a point to see that everyone who is alone on Thanksgiving or who can’t make a holiday meal themselves has a place to go for turkey and dressing.
“It came from the thought of knowing that some of these seniors in the area didn’t have a Thanksgiving the way some other people do. We wanted to give them the opportunity to have a nice Thanksgiving,” said Quesada, who lives in Lakehills.
But he also said anyone who wants to attend the event, whether they are young, middle-aged or older, is welcome to take part.
“It’s nice to see your neighbors, and you never know who you’re going to meet up with,” said Quesada. “It’s why we call it a Community Thanksgiving.”
Volunteers start cooking the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy and other items that make up the meal on Wednesday, Nov. 27, and finish the preparation early on Thursday, Nov. 28, so the feast can start at noon on Thursday.
It is held at the Lakehills Civic Center, a space that was donated to the organizers of the feast. The center is located at 11225 PR 37 in Lakehills.
Quesada said the feast started with about 200 people attending and has grown to serve about
350. The feast is scheduled to end at about 3 p.m. unless there are more to be served.
Music will be played during the gathering, and a wide variety of desserts will be available.
People who want to take the meals home with them also will be served, and some meals could be taken to seniors if delivery people working with the Meals on Wheels program volunteer their time.
Volunteers working with the feast do purchase turkeys for the meals and provide donations that help pay for other food items, but Quesada said organizers did not want to charge a fee for the dinner or even say donations would be accepted on the day of the feast.
“That could make some people feel obligated. We didn’t want that,” said Quesada.
People who want to volunteer their time to organize, produce and clean up after the feast are more than welcome to take part, and Quesada said that group has been growing.
“We’ve always counted on volunteers to get this done, and it’s amazing that each year, we get new volunteers,” the organizer said.
Quesada also said the volunteers aren’t asked to volunteer for a specific amount of time. They just work whatever hours they can, and together all the tasks at the giveaway get taken care of, he said.
Volunteers can either show up at the civic center Wednesday morning or Thursday or can call Quesada at 210-391-9007 to say when they are available to work.
“When you do something like this for others, it’s a real blessing,” he said.
Elsewhere in Bandera, both the Wildhorse Saloon at 134 River Bend Road and the Chikin Coop bar and grill at 402 Main St. will serve turkey and ham to their guests on Thursday afternoon at no charge, but they are asking visitors to bring side dishes to share with others.
The dinner at the Chikin Coop is scheduled to start at 2 p.m., and at the Wildhorse, it will begin at 3 p.m. on Thursday, officials said.
In Kerrville, a free Thanksgiving dinner will be offered by the Salvation Army of Kerrville to anyone needing a meal or company during the holidays on Thursday, Nov. 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The seated event will be held at the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 201 Holdsworth Dr. in Kerrville.
In addition, the Salvation Army will hand out Thanksgiving meals to anyone requesting the nourishment on Thursday at the rest stops on both the eastbound and westbound sides of Interstate 10 in Kerrville.
Salvation Army officials said they too were in need of volunteers to help prepare and serve the meals. Interested volunteers can call the Salvation Army at 830-315-5775 to find out more.