Frontline Mission serves up a decade of community dinners

Frontline Mission holds Thanksgiving dinner
Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 4:57 PM AKST
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - More than 300 volunteers came together on Thursday to transform the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Center in Wasilla into a family dining room for Thanksgiving dinner.

Volunteers at the tenth annual Frontline Mission community dinner treated attendees to turkey dinners, serenaded them with beautiful piano music, and provided all with a sense of community.

“There’s people here that couldn’t afford a meal, had no place to cook a meal, there’s people here that just want to come here to socialize, there’s people here that lost a loved one that need some uplifting, or you know just company,” said Landis Erwin, volunteer with Frontline Mission.

“So it’s a great example of, I think, what we all should be doing — no matter what faith you’re in or no faith at all — but as humans just coming together.”

One of those that needed a place to gather was John Malanchuk and his family.

“Man, this is really great,” Malanchuk said. “I didn’t know it was going on, so we found out and wanted to have a place to get together with some family and it’s amazing.”

Malanchuk noted that there were many more volunteers than he’d anticipated, and he appreciated both having a place to gather and feeling like part of his community.

“If we don’t appreciate family, it will be like, they’re gone one day and you will just regret it for the rest of your life,” Malanchuk said. “So you gotta appreciate family and be thankful for it.”

The number of attendees at the community dinners has gone from around 150 in the first year to an anticipated 2,000 guests in 2022, according to Frontline Mission. Volunteers spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving preparing 82 turkeys for Thursday’s meal.

Attendees gave rave reviews for the dinners, too.

“The food was amazing, it was so filling that I didn’t even get to finish my plate,” Malanchuk said.

Luckily, the Thanksgiving tradition of going back for a second plate can still be observed after the event concluded.

“They do offer to go boxes so we can take it with us,” Malanchuk said.