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Still setting table for community Thanksgiving meal

Joe Leveille (right) Elggets plate food during annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner Hemmens Cultural Center ElgThursday. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times

Joe Leveille (right) of Elgin gets a plate of food during the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin on Thursday. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media

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2012 Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Where: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22

When: First United Methodist Church, 216 E. Highland Ave., Elgin

Volunteer shifts

8-10:30 a.m. (set up and food prep)

10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (service)

1:30-3 p.m. (clean up and break down)


Mail to or drop off at:

ITN Deli

c/o Thanksgiving dinner

185 N. Edison Ave.

Elgin, IL 60123

Make checks payable to Elgin Community Network with “Thanksgiving dinner” in memo.

More info847-888-9486 or email

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:12AM

ELGIN — The annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner will take place at a new venue next week — and is still seeking financial support.

Event coordinator Jeff Turner, owner of In the Neighborhood Deli, said that another $1,200 to $1,500 is needed to run the midday event at past levels.

The dinner had been held at the Hemmens Cultural Center. But the city changed its policy for rentals for the facility when putting together its 2012 budget, and Turner said the bill would have been $2,500 to rent the facility for the day. Organizers had been able to use the Hemmens at no charge in the past.

“First United Methodist (216 E. Highland Ave.) stepped up and offered their facility at no charge,” Turner wrote in a Facebook correspondence seeking donations. “They are some pretty incredible people over there. Please understand that there is no bad blood with the city of Elgin (and its) government, city services and community news. They have been involved with every dinner we have done, and I am confident they will be involved in some way with this one.”

Another potential setback was that Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington had been providing turkeys but won’t be able to this year. But Turner said some significant donations have been made to cover a good deal of the poultry costs.

All told, putting on the dinner will cost about $3,500 to serve up to 1,200 people, as organizers have in the past, according to Turner.

He said the effort also is still seeking donations of desserts, along with volunteers to work a Thanksgiving Day shift from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Those on this third shift will help serve meals for a half-hour, then will be involved with cleaning up, breaking down equipment and possibly readying leftover food to be donated to local nonprofits.

The annual Elgin event started out as a program of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, which fed the needy in Elgin on Thanksgiving for years. After the church discontinued the dinner five years ago, the Community Crisis Center in Elgin picked up the duty for one year and moved the event in 2009 to the Hemmens.

Turner has been involved in the project for several years

That came about after Turner oversaw the kitchen for a community Thanksgiving Dinner at Hemmens in 2009. Maj. Ken Nicolai and the Elgin chapter of the Salvation Army (where Nicolai served at the time) put together the event that involved dozens of businesses, colleges and organizations.

With an initial committee of just five people, the operation grew to include volunteer efforts from local hospitals, country clubs and the Grand Victoria Casino. Churches sent volunteers, and food distributors donated stuffing, potatoes, corn and accompaniments to the traditional dinner. Volunteers ranging from elementary students through senior citizens poured in to help.

For his volunteer efforts, this spring Turner was named to the 2012 Ten Outstanding Young Persons of Illinois Honors Program by the Illinois Jaycees and Illinois JCI Senate.

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