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Getting their serving instructions from Pete Foster, left, are Mark Gherty, Maeta Gherty, Jamie Johnson and Laura Foster.
Getting their serving instructions from Pete Foster, left, are Mark Gherty, Maeta Gherty, Jamie Johnson and Laura Foster.

HOME Thanksgiving dinner is about good food and good company

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River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

This was the third year of the HOME Thanksgiving dinner, and it was the largest crowd ever with more than 300 people enjoying turkey and all the trimmings.

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This is also the third year that the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy have been supplied by Pete and Laura Foster. The Fosters run Barkers and San Pedro in downtown Hudson and both say they look forward to the HOME event.

They have volunteered at HOME meals through their church, Bethel Lutheran, and were inspired to provide the holiday dinner because the meals touch so many in the community.

"This is really an incredible effort and truly a community event," said Laura. "Pete and I felt this was a good way to share the holiday spirit with a lot of people. We're blessed to be able to do this."

Pete said, "We just wanted to reach out and show support for those in our community who need a little help. We'll keep on doing this as long as our doors are open."

The Fosters say they were inspired to do more by Ruth and Chuck Lewis, who spearheaded the idea for the Hudson Outreach Meal for Everyone three years ago. When it started, the plan was to involve as many of Hudson's churches in the effort to provide a home-cooked meal twice a month to whoever wanted to come, no questions asked.

"Some people said it would never happen or it would fall apart after a few months, but we've had around 100 people at every meal. And churches and the volunteers have really made it happen," said Chuck.

Ruth Lewis said that every month they see some new people and some regulars. And she is proud that every meal includes a wide variety of food including meat and lots of side dishes as well as beverages and dessert.

Most of the food is supplied by whatever church is in charge of the meal that week. Any additional food needed can be purchased through money donated to the HOME project.

The HOME dinners also include special supervised activities like movies and crafts for children while parents enjoy their meal. In the past, the event has also been used to get things like hats, mittens and scarves to those who might need them for the winter.

The Lewises stress that the meal is open to anyone, regardless of their circumstances, and that no money is every accepted at the meal.

"It is as much about fellowship and community spirit as it is about the meal itself," said Chuck. Everyone who attends is asked to wear a name tag, first name only. They determine how many people they serve by the number of tags used.

Christmas dinners

HOME's Christmas dinner is scheduled for Dec. 18 at Bethel. Anyone interested in volunteering or making a donation can do so at the Bethel Lutheran Church office at 920 Third St. The public is welcome to attend.

Hudson United Methodist Church is also serving a free Christmas dinner on Christmas Day from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. That church is located at 1401 Laurel Ave.

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