About 450 Thanksgiving meals were served at the Mateel Community Center last year and organizers hope for similar crowds this Thursday. – The redwood Times file photo

The Garberville Veterans Association annual Thanksgiving meal is happening at the Mateel Community Center again this year and volunteers to help cook the day before, serve meals and clean up the day of are still sought.

Last year, hundreds came to the Mateel to get a turkey dinner.

“Last year, it was almost 400 so it increased substantially,” meal organizer and Veterans of Foreign Wars Garberville Post bookkeeper Amie McClellan said about meals served. In previous years, the was served in the now closed Garberville Veterans Hall.

“Since the hall is closed, they’re doing it at the Mateel,” Garberville VFW commander Hank Toborg said.

“It’s open to everyone,” McClellan said.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she added. “There’s a lot of people you would never see talking to each other sitting together sharing a meal.”

“This is not just for the homeless people — this is a community dinner,” Toborg said.

Toborg said the Thanksgiving community meal has been given out by the vets association for the past 30 years.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said.

Mateel Community Center board president Garth Epling said he’s glad the Thanksgiving meal is still going on despite the fact that the future of the Mateel meal program is uncertain as the debt of the center is resolved.

“We donate the space and facility for them to do the meal. We see it as a worthy endeavor,” he said about Thanksgiving.

This event is only possible through the generous support of the Southern Humboldt community, Toborg said.

“The community is the one who supports it,” he said.

The veterans association solicited food and monetary donations from community members in October, McClellan said.

“The community is so kind to send in donations,” she said.

McClellan said 25 turkeys have been donated to feed everyone.

“It’s a lot of people,” she said.

Volunteers are needed to make sure all the hungry folks get fed, McClellan said. Help is needed on Wednesday to help prepare the food, on Thursday starting at 8 a.m. to help set up the Mateel for meal and later on Thursday to help with the clean up, she said.

Food will begin to be served at noon on Thursday and will be served until it’s gone, McClellan said.

“It could be an hour it could be a couple hours,” she said about how long food will be served for.

Thanksgiving meals will also be delivered to seniors who are unable to make it out to the Mateel on Thursday, McClellan said.

“The Healy Senior Center comes and helps drive those around,” she said.

McClellan said she looks forward to the Thanksgiving atmosphere filling the Mateel on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s an amazing experience, it really is,” she said. “Everyone should come.”

Hunter Cresswell can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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