Make your reservations today for Mabel’s annual community Thanksgiving dinner! The annual dinner not only feeds one’s appetite but, for five years, has provided funds to meet the needs of community members. This year, the sixth annual dinner will benefit the event’s founder, LeeAnn Williams Howard.
LeeAnn is the daughter of Rollis and Bev Williams of rural Mabel, Minn. She has one brother, Craig. LeeAnn and her boyfriend Dave Kaickman live in Caledonia, Minn. LeeAnn is a former 4-H extension agent and takes pride in her involvement in the community, especially working with youth.
On June 3, LeeAnn fell ill and was immediately taken to the emergency room at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minn. Since then, she has undergone 42 operations and was sedated for most of the 81 days she was in the hospital. She is now recuperating at the Chatfield Care Center, Chatfield, Minn. ,where she is undergoing wound therapy and physical therapy. Currently, she is unable to walk.
Though LeeAnn has been sick and is recovering from gangrene, a dangerous and potentially fatal condition, LeeAnn is still leading her volunteer team. LeeAnn explained that it has been “hard to let go.” She can participate in Zoom meetings, take phone calls, and track reservations.
The team of 30 volunteers helps with soliciting donations, food preparations before the day of the event, assisting on the day of the event, and cleaning up after the event.
This year’s dinner will take place on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Mabel Community Center, 201 S. Main St., on the south end of town instead of at the Mabel Methodist Church as in previous years. In addition to a different location this year, attendees can order a take-out dinner or dine in. New this year is a bake sale, a live auction, and a silent auction. The live auction will begin at 1:30 p.m.
Donations will go to LeeAnn’s medical fund.
As in previous years, the meal is a freewill donation. The number of meals is capped at 350. Do not wait; RSVP today by calling or texting LeeAnn at (507) 459-9243.
The annual community dinner started when LeeAnn dreamed of hosting a community Thanksgiving dinner for residents “for those who spend Thanksgiving alone” for four or five years. She shared her idea
with the Mabel Methodist Church pastor, Pam Seebach, who, without missing a beat, said go for it.
LeeAnn determined that it would not be a financial burden for attendees. Since day one, it has been a freewill donation.
LeeAnn said, “The first dinner attracted just shy of 100 attendees. In 2019, there were 150 attendees, and in 2020, there were a little over 400 people. In 2021 and 2022, it was capped at 350 people.
LeeAnn explained that in the first five years, dinner was a mission as compared to the benefit that it is this year. Thanks to the generous donations of food and supplies, the dinner has always paid for itself. The remaining money is used to support the needs of community members. One year, a cash donation was given to a local family that lost their home in a fire.
To volunteer, call or text LeeAnn at (507) 459-9243. Many hands are needed to peel potatoes, roll meatballs, prepare green bean casserole and stuffing, and make scrumptious-tasting apple and pumpkin bars. Volunteers are also needed to prep, serve and clean up.
Organizers are still accepting donations of food and paper supplies.
There will also be a live auction and a silent auction. Three quilts will be auctioned off during the live auction. Auctioneer Marc Prestby, of Prestby Auction Service, Canton, will entertain the audience while encouraging attendees to bid.
Donations may be sent to BMO Bank in Mabel, 101 East Newburg, Mabel, Minn. 55954, in care of LeeAnn Howard’s medical fund.