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Free community meals served in the Mat-Su

Frontline Mission hosts 9th annual Thanksgiving meal
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 5:48 PM AKST
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - It was only 11 a.m. but already the parking lot at the Menard Sports Center in Wasilla was filling up. Hundreds of residents gathered around tables to share a Thanksgiving meal together.

Spirits were high as volunteers cooked, plated, packed and hand delivered meal after meal to people who may have had nowhere else to go. The message posted on their social media page: All are welcomed.

Frontline Mission started serving free Thanksgiving dinners in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough nine years ago.

“It started off really small. Maybe 150 people would come, and then we’ve served up to 1,700 meals in more recent years,” Frontline Mission Managing Director Matthew Sheets said.

Sheets got involved at the mission after receiving his own first Thanksgiving dinner his first year living in Alaska.

Sprinkled among the tables are volunteers, filling the empty chairs, having casual conversation with anyone wanting to talk.

Volunteers talk to residents
Volunteers talk to residents(KTUU-TV)

Dollie Hoch, a volunteer for the mission, had her three daughters in tow Thursday morning. She reached out to Frontline Mission four years ago to teach her kids how to volunteer and the meaning behind it. She looks forward to the Thanksgiving dinner every year.

“We get to learn about you. We get to ask you questions and we make you feel at home,” Hoch said. “This event brings people together.”

So whether you are experiencing homelessness, lost a loved one, don’t have family in Alaska—or even a journalist sent to a story about a free community meal—nobody walks away from the Menard Sports Center in Wasilla hungry on Thanksgiving.

Free Thanksgiving meal
Free Thanksgiving meal(KTUU-TV)

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