Mr. Thanksgiving dinner celebrates 51st year

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 11:22 PM CST
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MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - What started as a way to make sure neighbors weren’t lonely on the holiday, continued for its 51st year this Thanksgiving.

The annual Mr. Thanksgiving dinner distributed thousands of free meals at the South Park Mall in Moline on Thursday evening. This is the second year the dinner was held as a drive-thru due to the pandemic. However, that didn’t stop Bob Vogelbaugh, Mr. Thanksgiving himself.

“Right now with this pandemic and everything going on we need more love in our country and fellow man. This needs to be [done],” Vogelbaugh said.

While volunteers started preparing the meals around 1:30 p.m., it took about two months to track down supplies and figure out all of the logistics of the event.

Organizers said supply chain issues made things a little more challenging this year. For those involved, like Hy-Vee District Store Director Tim Cernin, it was worth it.

“When we say we’re going to go help with Mr. Thanksgiving people just say ‘I’m there’,” Cernin said. “We want to help serve wherever we can and do whatever we can to help our neighbors, family [and] friends.”

Mr. Thanksgiving’s friends and about forty Hy-Vee employees helped hand out over 3,200 meals for people from all around the Quad Cities.

Along with Hy-Vee donating the meals, Scott Community College donated kitchen space for meal prep.

One Le Claire resident and her husband usually donate, but this year they didn’t have any Thanksgiving plans.

“I think it’s really nice,” Barb Norris said. “This year we have no family, so we just thought we’d come and participate.”

Meanwhile, Amedi Avouglah has come to the dinner ever since she moved to Moline.

“I’ve been here … like ten years now,” Avouglah said. “Every Thanksgiving, I cannot miss [this].”

Mr. Thanksgiving said he’s thrilled to see the support from the area every year.

“People are wonderful, I couldn’t live in a better place than the Quad Cities, U.S.A., it’s fantastic,“ Vogelbaugh said. “I’m hoping this will start other communities thinking about doing a Thanksgiving dinner.”

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