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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Thanksgiving: Church provides dinner for students, community

Thanksgiving is often thought of as a very family-oriented holiday. It’s a time to relax, enjoy good food, and catch up on the latest family news. Even Northern’s campus is closed down for half a week to allow the students and faculty to be with their families for this holiday.

These thoughts often lead to thinking about those who can’t go home to their family, or who don’t have a family to go home to. This holiday season might be thought of as a very lonely time for those people. This Thanksgiving Day, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church will be hosting their 32nd Annual Community-Wide Thanksgiving Dinner.

“It provides a needed service to the community, I think,” said Mark Paulsen, a chemistry professor at NMU who has volunteered at this event in the past. “It gives people a nice place to celebrate the holidays.”

Originally intended for NMU students not traveling home for Thanksgiving, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church provides a turkey dinner complete with pie for those who would otherwise be alone for the holiday. // Delaney Lovett/NW

As a church, members come together to provide everyone who doesn’t want to spend their holiday alone with a free traditional Thanksgiving meal. It includes a full-sized turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and all the trimmings one can think of. They even have pumpkin pie to complete the meal.

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“It’s a nice dinner,” Paulsen said. “I enjoy meeting and talking to the different people that help out and those that attend the dinner.”

The event used to be exclusively for NMU students. It started out when NMU professors came together with St. Mark’s to bring together the students who couldn’t go home for the holidays. When more and more students had cars and were able to go home, St. Mark’s extended the invitation to include anyone in the community who would have otherwise been alone on Thanksgiving Day.

“I rather enjoy the whole affair,” said Edith Prosen, a member of the community who has coordinated this event for the past 10 years. “It’s getting everything together and ready for the kids, and it’s meeting new people and getting to see the new faces.”

There’s usually no shortage of food or volunteers. Funds are raised through a bazaar held in October, where they receive most of the money that is needed. Local businesses also help out through donations. After that, the community comes together to serve this meal through helping with the setting up of tables and chairs, preparing the food, and making sure the dinner runs smoothly.

“We usually have too many volunteers,” said Prosen. “Many of them are alone themselves or it’s just them and their husband. So they’ll come and help out and then they also get a meal when everyone is done. They enjoy it so much that many of them are repeat volunteers.”

A free meal, friendly faces and laughter to go around is not all that St. Mark’s is offering.  Prosen recalls the tradition of singing before the meal.

“Before the meal we’ll sing grace and we’ll also sing ‘Over the River and Through the Woods’ and other holiday songs,” Prosen said. “Sometimes people will accompany us on the piano, and sometimes there will be a guitar. Anyone who wishes to play is certainly welcome to do so. “

This Thanksgiving Dinner is free of charge and will be taking place at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, located behind the Cohodas building on the corner of Fair Avenue and Presque Isle Avenue. The dinner starts at 1 p.m., but the doors are open an hour beforehand for coffee and conversation. Reservations and donations are appreciated. To reserve, please call St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 906-226-6857.

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