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St. Scholastica volunteers make final preparations for Thanksgiving deliveries

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DULUTH, MN-- Volunteers were hard at work Wednesday at the DECC, making sure everyone is able to have a Thanksgiving meal.

Usually, St. Scholastica hosts a buffet for thousands at the DECC, but without a place to celebrate, had to make some necessary changes this year to keep everyone safe.

For most people, Thanksgiving dinner will be far from the usual this year.

That includes folks in the Twin Ports who usually spend their holiday at the DECC, says Monica Hendrickson, who is the Event Organizer at The College of St. Scholastica.

"Typically, on Thanksgiving day, we have a whole big group of people, over 4,000 people, upstairs in the ballroom enjoying a big family style meal, said Hendrickson. "This year, that's not possible."

Organizers at St. Scholastica turned the impossible into an opportunity to carry on their tradition.

"There's a lot of people who live alone; there are folks out there that are caregivers, so we bring one to two meals to the household, and people can enjoy them on Thanksgiving," said Hendrickson.

Volunteers have been working all week preparing and assembling more than 2,600 to-go meals, 800 bagged lunches, and close to 650 family meal kits.

They are then bagged and placed into a cooler overnight before loading them on to trucks first thing Thursday morning.

"It's different because of COVID, but our goal was to make sure we can feed the need that is out there in the community, said Hendrickson.

Kim Hileman has been a volunteer at the Thanksgiving buffet for eight years.

"We were really afraid that we weren't going to be able to do this, and when we found a way to overcome those challenges, I think all of us were really elated," said Hileman.

Saying they were elated to still bring some joy to people in the community who need it most.

Hileman says it takes a lot of hard work, but it is always worth it in the end.

"I think we all take for granted what we have and when you hear what people don't have and what they are so grateful for just in and of itself in a meal makes everything so worth every bit of effort," said Hileman.

More than 100 trucks will arrive at the DECC Thursday starting at 8 A.M. to start delivering meals.

People are no longer able to sign up for a meal delivery, but organizers hope to see everyone back in person at the DECC next year.

Natalie Grant

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