These People Cook 1,000 Thanksgiving Dinners From Scratch

I know amazing people. Their names are Ben and Niki Weldon. Every year for the last 15 years, starting when they were young, they have helped cook and serve Thanksgiving dinner for over a thousand people in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. This includes meals delivered to the homebound plus all nearby police and fire personnel working on the holiday.

On Thanksgiving day, each table is covered with a tablecloth and features a centerpiece. Maybe the diners can’t afford to provide a traditional homemade Thanksgiving meal for their families, maybe they don’t have anyone to share it with, or maybe they’re not healthy enough to cook their own holiday dinners. At this dinner they don’t ask questions—these people are their guests.

They buy 30 pumpkins, roast them, transform the pulp into tasty filling, and bake pies.

Lots of pies!

They peel 500 lbs. of potatoes

and mash them with real butter and cream.

They roast 40 turkeys

and make gallons of gravy

as well as 60 loaves of bread, gallons of soup, and lots of side dishes.

They don’t do this alone, they work alongside the same wonderful volunteers who’ve helped cook and serve this Thanksgiving meal year after year. The dinner, decorations, and deliveries couldn’t happen without them these dedicated people.

Last year, Ben and Niki were asked to take over as permanent organizers. They agreed even though much of the cost rests on their shoulders. They’re busy fixing up their first home and are parents of a beautiful baby girl but the Free Thanksgiving Dinner is also a priority for them.

Niki says,

Our goal is to provide not only the homemade meal, but also a place people can come together. This is what the holiday holds for us and how we give thanks for all that we have each year.

We are dedicated to continuing this tradition but looking to ease the financial burden of making this special meal. Please help us give thanks by giving to others.

If you’re inspired to help, here are some ways you can pitch in.

~Donate any amount through the dinner’s new fundraising page.

~Donate food, time, or funds by contacting Niki at

~ Like the Free Thanksgiving Dinner page on Facebook and share with your friends.

~Bid during the Facebook Online Auction to Benefit the Free Thanksgiving Dinner, November 3rd to 5th. Items up for grabs include West Park Station, Starbucks, Aladdin’s Eatery, Don’s Pomeroy House, Synergy Woods Paintball, Handmade By Nats, First Watch, and Eventide Photography.

“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of four books and served as 2019 Ohio Poet of the Year. She's the editor of Braided Way: Faces & Voices of Spiritual Practice. She works as a book editor, teaches writing workshops, and maxes out her library card each week.
This entry was posted in community, compassion, gratitude, hope, local food, Thanksgiving, tradition and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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