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Charlene Henke and Mike Widhalm were among the volunteers helping Tracey and Greg Landreth of the Panther Cafe and Karen Doran prepare a Thanksgiving feast for Valier senior citizens and other residents who didn’t have family to celebrate with this holiday season.

Tracey cooked two 19 lb. turkeys for the dinner, which included all the trimmings.

Good continues to prevail in Valier during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tracey and Greg Landreth  of the Panther Cafe) and Karen Doran were at it again last week as they prepared and delivered 22 meals to local seniors who were not able to gather with family for Thanksgiving.

Originally, the Landreths had planned to be out of town for Thanksgiving, but circumstances beyond their control changed those plans. So, they made new plans. 

 “Greg and I, along with Karen, are doing the free meals again for Thanksgiving, but a scaled back version. We’ve contacted our local seniors and some of our customers who are away from family and invited them to join us for a meal at the Panther. We’re trying to avoid the chaos of delivering 78 meals again. We want to feed the seniors,” Tracey shared. 

The 78 meals Tracey referred to were dinners provided during a snowy, pandemic challenged Easter of 2020 when the idea of deliver a few meals grew beyond their expectations!

For Thanksgiving, calls were made ahead to see if the seniors needed meals. Those meals were provided by the Panther Cafe, with a little help. “There were some very kind people in the community who donated to help defray the costs, including some of the seniors,” said Tracey. “Although not expected or necessary, the donations were appreciated. We also got a few calls asking if we were having our free meals again and asking to be added to our list.”

They had more helping hands this time. “We had a couple that peeled potatoes and a few that brought pies and I cooked two 19 lb. turkeys,” shared Tracey. Charlene Henke helped deliver meals and Maryann Weaver and Mike Widhalm peeled potatoes.

After deliveries were made, the crew sat down to their own Thanksgiving dinner with 14 others that came in to join them.

 “Thankful we could help those that didn’t have family here. It was nice spending time with our few friends that were able to join us,” said Karen.

When Tracey was asked if there was anything further she would like readers to know, she smiled, and answered, “Yes, it was fun! And if you know of a local senior citizen or community member who is alone for the holidays, please call ahead of time and we can add that person to our list of meals.”

For information on how you can help next time, reach out to Karen or Tracey at the Panther Cafe or message the cafe on Facebook. You, too, may find joy in serving alongside these happy volunteers!

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