Famous Dubuque Thanksgiving community dinner makes comeback after pandemic-related cancellation last year

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 5:34 AM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Hundreds of volunteers gathered at the Joliet Event Center in downtown Dubuque on Thursday to help out at the Dubuque Community Thanksgiving dinner.

“I am volunteering to give food to people that do not have a family to go to or do not have food on their plate every day,” Natalie Kammerude explained.

Kammerude has been volunteering with her family at the dinner for eight years. She said her favorite part of the day is seeing people’s smiles as they go through the line to get a meal.

“It makes my day, and it makes their day as well,” she added.

But the volunteers did not get to see those smiles last year, as organizers cancelled the dinner because of the pandemic.

“We were kind of sad at first because we wanted everyone to help out and especially during a tough time for most families around this area,” Brandon Snyder, who was serving food, said. “Our hearts pretty much sunk.”

Snyder is Donna Ginter’s great-grandson. Ginter launched the dinner more than 50 years ago, just for five men who did not have anywhere to enjoy the holiday. Now it has become a whole Dubuque tradition.

“I was so excited when I heard that they were going to do it again, literally called a bunch of my friends, and I’m like, ‘Y’all should come down, help serve some food and just have a fun time.’”

Snyder said the best part of the day for him has been connecting with those who come to eat with them year after year, many of whom he has not seen since before the pandemic.

“There are a lot of stories about them during the pandemic too, and we try to do tidbits because we got to keep the line going,” he mentioned. “Genny will start harking on you if you are going too slow.”

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