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Community Thanksgiving meals return

In-person dining is a thing at the Cloquet VFW again

This year's community Thanksgiving dinner will be a hybrid affair, on what will be the second Covid turkey day. The Carlton County Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Auxiliary will again offer free Thanksgiving meals on Thursday, Nov. 25, this year via pickup, delivery or in person. Last year there were no sit-down meals available.

"We'll have all three options," said organizer and DAV treasurer Raffy Johnson. "As for Covid restrictions, we're just gonna follow CDC guidelines. If you're vaccinated, we recommend you mask. If not, you need a mask."

This year's Thanksgiving operations are headquartered at the Cloquet VFW, rather than the usual Zion Lutheran Church, which has yet to open its dining hall due to the ongoing pandemic. Deliveries and pickup will take place in front of the VFW building at 210 Arch Street, while people eating inside are asked to park in the lot in the back or the other city parking lot across Avenue B. The sit-down meal starts at 11 a.m. at the VFW and ends at 3 p.m.

Although you don't have to call ahead to dine in, people must call for delivery or curbside pickup by Tuesday, Nov. 23. It's especially important for delivery, as the DAV organizers have to plan the many delivery routes across Carlton County in advance.

Delivery will run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Anyone who would like to order a meal is asked to call Zion Lutheran Church at 218-879-4647. Leave a message with name, phone number, address and how many meals for delivery.

Callers for pickup orders should leave a name, phone number and number of meals. Curbside pickup on Arch Street will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.

The DAV is still looking for volunteers to help with delivery, service and cleanup, Johnson said, adding that volunteers receive a free T-shirt and food, along with the satisfaction of helping their neighbors. Call Zion at 218-879-4647 to volunteer as well.

This is the fifth annual Thanksgiving dinner organized by the local DAV for the benefit of anyone who wants to join in.

"It is a thank-you for all the support from the Carlton County residents," Johnson said. "They've supported the clothing drive since its inception, and this is a way for us to give back."

Although they are asking people to call on Tuesday at the latest, Johnson said the church will be forwarding calls to the VFW on Wednesday.

"We won't leave anybody out, but we want as many upfront numbers as we can get," he said.

Major sponsors of this year's event also include the Cloquet VFW, the Eagles Club, Community Printing, B&B Market, the Moose Lodge and Irving Community Club.

Others are welcome to make a freewill donation on the day, but it's not required or even expected, Johnson said.

Carlton meal pickup

Volunteer Services of Carlton County at 199 Chestnut Ave. in Carlton will serve as a pickup location for up to 300 free meals prepared by the College of St. Scholastica for people in need.

The Carlton meals will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. People are asked to drive up to the front of the office building on Chestnut and stay in their vehicles. A volunteer will come out, ask how many meals are needed, then bring them out. This is Volunteer Services' first year as a satellite. They're hoping people will just line up in their cars down the street while they wait.

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