Dozens of members of the Ennis community and beyond gathered at the Madison Valley Baptist Church on Thursday for a community Thanksgiving dinner, celebrating each other’s company just as much as the things they are truly thankful for.
While the buffet line welcomed visitors with hot steaming goodness in the form of turkey, ham, pork roast, potatoes, stuffing and salads, it did not get there without support from the community and the hard work of Maria Lake and her family.
Lake and her late husband Bob had decided last winter to help out with the community dinner on Thanksgiving Day this year. In the past, a similar community holiday dinner was held either the weekend before or after the holiday, but never on Thanksgiving until this year. Lake and daughter, Nicole Fredson, put together a spreadsheet in October for people to sign up to bring potluck style dishes, and the meat products for this year’s dinner were donated by Madison Foods and Deemo’s Meats.
The preparations to feed approximately 100 people for Thanksgiving began Wednesday morning as Lake, Fredson and her children, Wyatt and Kaycee, bustled around the kitchen at the church, shuffling pots and pans on and off the stove and in and out of the oven. But Lake downplayed the task, adding that cooking for 50 people or more has become no big deal after years of helping out with potluck-style events throughout the community.
“We believed there was a need in the community for it to happen on Thanksgiving Day,” Lake said.
The Lake family had even more cause to be thankful for each other after Bob passed away earlier this year, and the dinner provided them with a joyful opportunity to hold each other up at a difficult time rather than look at an empty seat at the table.
“He wanted the Church to do this,” Lake said.
Before saying a blessing on Thursday, Madison Valley Baptist Church pastor Ray Teston took the time to go about greeting new and familiar faces who showed up for the Thanksgiving dinner.
“Just meeting them, just getting acquainted with them. That’s why we do it,” he said. “Just something that we can do and try to show our love for our community.”
Teston watched with a smile as volunteers came and went in shifts to help serve the meal, knowing that they truly enjoyed working to serve their fellow community members.
“They’re glad to do it, they enjoy doing it, they want to do it,” said Teston. “Its good all the way around.”
And as Maria Lake and family watched the people stream in the doors to the church, she too recognized the spirit of making that little effort to make the holiday season that much warmer.
“It truly is a gift to give rather than to receive,” she said.