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Donations needed for Thanksgiving meals for Fairbanks families

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Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2012 10:14 pm | Updated: 11:54 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

With a Thanksgiving guest list of 300 or more, Cindy Fields, who oversees the soup kitchen at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, like every good hostess, is checking the pantry and making a list of provisions and necessities in advance of the holiday.

Although it will be the eighth Thanksgiving dinner that Fields and a host of volunteers have successfully put on for as many as 500 people, she is still concerned about collecting enough food to feed the homeless and hungry who fill Murphy Hall each holiday, in the lower level of the church.

“I can’t do it without worry,” she calmly stated. Fields estimates she will need donations of 20 turkeys and 20 hams and numerous side dishes to fill guests’ plates.

Donations are parceled out to people willing to cook a turkey or ham and deliver it mid-morning Thanksgiving Day. The meal is served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

In addition to turkey and ham, the holiday menu includes mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, yams, side dishes and dessert.

Fields is not as concerned about desserts since the senior class at Monroe Catholic High School will set up a culinary assembly line in Murphy Hall the day before Thanksgiving to turn out a quantity of pumpkin pies.

“It’s been a long tradition for the seniors to make pies from scratch on the Catholic Schools annual Day of Caring,” Fields explained.

Anyone wishing to donate food or services, or volunteer Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., can contact Fields or leave a voice message at 456-4918 or 347-5526, or email her at

The same Thanksgiving spirit and meals are offered by the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, various churches and community centers around the area.

The Fairbanks Community Food Bank plays a large role in making Thanksgiving Day a memorable day for families as well, and distributes free Thanksgiving food boxes for those in need at Fairbanks Presbyterian Church, on the day before the holiday. Free food boxes also will be distributed in North Pole at Lord of Life Lutheran Church.

This year, some folks might find a donated bison roast in lieu of turkey, said Samantha Kirstein, food bank executive director.

With 2000 food boxes to be filled by food bank volunteers in little more than a week away, and only 77 bags of bread stuffing on hand, Kirstein is getting a little worried.

“I need 2,000 pies, breads, cranberries (canned) and stuffing; those are the biggies needed to fill the boxes for the 2,000 households that we provide for,” she said.

“We’re anticipating a bigger year this year, because its been a bigger demand for food this year.”

Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546.

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