MINSTER — For many, Thanksgiving is a day devoted to preparing a feast that will be enjoyed in the company of family.
However, there are some whose holiday tends to be a bit quieter. For those who are unable to gather with loved ones, or who will not have a homecooked meal, the Knights of Columbus Hall, 40 N. Main St., Minster will host a Thanksgiving dinner provided by members of the surrounding community.
Reservations are requested by calling Shawn and Deb Sharp at 419-628-1328 or Roger Klosterman at 419-628-3726 by Nov. 20. However, walk-ins are also welcome.
The 12th annual Thanksgiving Fellowship was initially conceived in 2005 by Klosterman during his time in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s three-year Deacon Formation Program. What started as a service project for an aspiring deacon soon turned into a holiday tradition, which now welcomes upwards of 300 people each year.
While the original idea can be attributed to Klosterman, he stressed that the event has always been a group effort.
“It’s not about me,” Klosterman said. “It’s about the community.”
In recent years, the Sharps, of Minster, have played a significant role in the dinner’s planning and have become the driving force behind the event.
“Shawn was interested in taking over, and I said, ‘Go ahead and run it,’” said Klosterman.
Paul and Shelly Heuker are another local couple who have been involved in the event’s planning for years.
According to Shelly, she and her husband first volunteered in 2010 to support their son, who wanted to help with the dinner as a way to complete his service hours for his confirmation through Minster’s St. Augustine Catholic Church.
Klosterman, who has been a deacon at St. Augustine’s since 2007, said three to four students at Minster High School, who are working toward confirmation, volunteer each year to serve and assist at the dinner.
Klosterman said he tells the students to treat the visitors as they would wish to be treated in a restaurant setting but with an added touch of empathy and geniality.
“If you want good service, give good service,” he said.
“(The students offer) to carry plates or walk around greeting people and fill up coffee,” Heuker added.
“If (they) see someone sitting there and don’t have anything to do, (their) job is to talk with them. That’s the fellowship part of it,” Klosterman said.
Arguably the most important component of the event, the food, is also a result of community collaboration and is a family affair, as well.
Minster local Mary Dahlinghaus is in charge of meal preparation, along with her sons, Dale, John and Denny, and daughter-in-law, Angie.
According to Klosterman, Mary is the town’s go-to for anyone in need of good food for a large event.
“We need a cook, we call Mary,” he said.
Preparation for the gathering begins the night before, at which time donations are welcome and may be dropped off at the K of C Hall.
Along with food donations, the Thanksgiving Fellowship receives financial sponsorship from several local businesses, including Buschur Electric, Minster Bank, Garmann Miller, Larger Networks, Minster Dental Care and Machine Concepts.
Much of the food for the dinner is purchased from the local grocery store, Wagner’s IGA, including the 16 turkey loaves expected for this year. This number is up from about four loaves needed for the fellowship’s first year.
As for the event’s guest list, Klosterman said anyone and everyone is welcome.
“Most people, when they think of the Thanksgiving dinner, they think, ‘I’m not poor and destitute. I’m not qualified for that,’” he said. “But, that’s not the point. If you have no one to spend Thanksgiving with, come in for a couple hours.”
Meal delivery is available to those in the local area, who may be unable to attend due to illness, disability, or transportation issues.
Klosterman sees no end in sight when it comes to keeping The Thanksgiving Fellowship an ongoing, yearly tradition and is humbled by the amount of support garnered from the community, including the nearly 40 volunteers, all of whom have made it possible to pull off an event of such magnitude each year.
“You’re giving to others, but you’re also giving to yourself,” Heuker said.
Klosterman added, “(Fellowship is) when you give more of yourself than what you expect in return.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.