Organizers are rounding up a flock of turkeys in preparation for the 35th annual Citywide Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 26.
And no wonder — they hope to feed a record 800 people.
On Thursday, Ameristar Casino-Hotel donated 26 gobblers for the occasion.
The casino has been donating turkeys for the dinner for at least 20 years, according to Brenda Moran, who is in her 20th — and she says final — year as coordinator.
“They’ve been in from the beginning,” she said. “The dinner has grown, and they have grown, too.”
At first, Ameristar donated 10 turkeys, then 14, then 18, Moran said — and now, 26. The frozen turkeys were taken to the Council Bluffs Country Club, where they will be thawed in walk-in coolers over the weekend so they’re ready to be roasted next week by manager Louis Palacio.
“We’re bringing in a crew to carve them,” she said.
Others giving gobblers include retired Dr. Behrouz and Christiane Rassekh and Bob and Elaine Fenner, Moran said.
St. Albert Catholic School held a potato drive and will furnish mashed potatoes and stuffing. Fareway will also provide stuffing, Rotella’s will donate 800 rolls and Larsen Supply Co. will donate paper products, she said. Members of Emanuel Lutheran Church will donate 18 dishes of green bean casserole. St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Corpus Christi Parish and others have held food drives to collect things to donate. Hy-Vee Food Stores, Walmart and Sam’s Club contributed gift cards for buying supplies.
Some organizations have dropped things off at Council Bluffs Country Club, while others have left them at St. Patrick’s, Moran said.
“We are trying to take something over each day,” she said.
“We’re very fortunate,” Moran said. “The community has stepped up to make this possible. What’s great about this is, many hands make light work.”
And there will be hungry mouths waiting — but not inside, since the meal will only be available for takeout or delivery this year.
“Right now, we have close to 600 on our list for takeout or delivery,” she said Wednesday afternoon.
The limit is 800, she said.
It takes a lot of volunteers to get everything done — and more volunteers are needed to deliver meals on Thanksgiving and take food outside to be picked up, Moran said.
Drivers will start delivering at 10:45 a.m., and pickup will run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Council Bluffs Country Club, 4500 Piute St., Moran said.
“We have a 45-minute head start with delivery to try to get those out there,” she said. “Deliveries are going to be contact-free,” whenever possible.
Meals are available to families, singles, elderly, children and people of all faiths and income levels. There is no charge, but free-will offerings are welcome. Checks should be made out to St. Patrick’s Church with the notation, “Citywide Thanksgiving Dinner.”
Reservations can be made from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 23 or until 800 are received by calling 712-309-6897. Anyone who reaches voicemail can leave a message that includes the person’s full name, full address and a telephone number where they can be reached on Thanksgiving Day. Before meals are delivered, a volunteer will call to confirm the reservation — and the dinner will not be delivered until it is confirmed. No more than eight meals will be delivered to the same address.
The business news you need
With a weekly newsletter looking back at local history.