By Craig Sterrett
At noon on Thanksgiving, volunteers from First Congregational Church of Peru were preparing to serve anywhere from 75 to 125 people a free Thanksgiving.
Dean Tieman, one of the key organizers of the fifth annual community dinner scheduled for noon-2 p.m., said the goal always has been to provide a Thanksgiving meal to people who might be alone, unable to travel or even stuck at the hospital while a family member is hospitalized.
The full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and dessert has attracted anywhere from 75 to 125 people each year. This year, Tieman said Ron Hammers has secured a bus to pick people up if they need a ride to church.
Dean and Dale Tieman and other volunteers put up fliers at the high-rises in Spring Valley, La Salle and Peru to invite residents of those facilities, but they welcome anyone who might not be able to be with family and friends on Thanksgiving.
For instance, they’ll go to the waiting rooms next door to the church at Illinois Valley Community Hospital to see if there are families who are stuck there because of an ailing family member.
“We try to hit ICU to see if families are over there so they can come over and have an actual Thanksgiving dinner,” Dean Tieman said.
They also deliver meals to shut-ins or even people who might have car trouble. For a delivery, or to volunteer, call (815) 223-0722.
Church members raised a lot of the funds and delivered side dishes and vegetables for the meal. Four-Star Restaurant donated 10 pies. Dean talked to business associates and local business owners to seek monetary donations to buy turkeys — 220 pounds of turkeys. And Advantage Logistics donated paper products.