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Smith family continues to share Thanksgiving

The Smith family, which has been offering a free community Thanksgiving dinner for approximately a quarter century, will provide a hot, filling and free meal yet again from noon to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, at the Pine River Ame...

The Smith family, which has been offering a free community Thanksgiving dinner for approximately a quarter century, will provide a hot, filling and free meal yet again from noon to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, at the Pine River American Legion.

"My husband and I had been doing deliveries for the Christmas meal the Legion had been putting on," said Lisa Douglas, explaining how the Thanksgiving tradition started. "One of my brothers and Dad had been talking and said this was something we could do. For nine of us kids to throw a meal together would be fairly normal. So we decided we would start doing a Thanksgiving dinner. We're big into cooking."

Douglas's mother and father, Violet and Floyd Smith, spearheaded the effort for many years and became synonymous with the event. Both have died, and their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and extended family have refused to let the charitable tradition stop in spite of the time they must dedicate to it.

"Mom and Dad are gone," Douglas said. "Other than that it has pretty much been the same. We get as many of us together as we can. There are nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, great-great-grandchildren but not a lot has changed. We serve pretty close to 320 pounds of turkey a year. We run it buffet style. We used to do sit-down serving. The buffet style of serving works much better. We put in a lot of time. When you do it year after year it kind of becomes a habit. We spend the whole day before Thanksgiving cooking and getting things set up and ready to go."

The event is free, with optional donations going to the local food shelves or other charities. It has served as an important opportunity for fellowship for anyone looking for companionship during Thanksgiving dinner.

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Those who cannot get out to attend aren't out of the loop either, as there is optional delivery. It is as popular now as it has been for years.

"I think we had maybe 250 people with deliveries and people who came in," Douglas said. "It has been pretty steady. It seems to fluctuate, depending on weather, but we stay pretty steady."

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