Thanksgiving will be different in Junction City this year, as the annual community Thanksgiving dinner has been canceled.

Organizer Margaret Kilpatrick said Friday the church that hosts the event had decided not to hold the event this year due to safety concerns.

“We talked and discussed on what to do with the Thanksgiving dinner,” Kilpatrick said. “We talked about letting it be a pick-up — we’d do the meals — a pick-up (event).”

Church officials had considered doing a drive-thru event, but ultimately dismissed the idea due to the risk to those who help out with the meal, who would have to come in and cook the food in close quarters in the church’s dining area in order to make the dinner happen.

Those involved in the annual event put the matter to a vote before ultimately deciding it wasn’t worth the possible danger associated with it.

However, if someone is hard up for a Thanksgiving meal this month, they need not despair.

Kilpatrick, who also works with the Geary County Food Pantry, said VFW 8773 has partnered with multiple local organizations to distribute about 150 turkeys and boxes of holiday food to families in need. The food will be distributed at the food pantry at 136 W. Third St. starting at 1 p.m. Nov. 21. Food will be distributed until it’s all gone.

People do not need to show proof of income or anything else they might otherwise need to receive help through the food pantry, she said. Anyone who feels the need is welcome to receive one of these holiday meal kits.

“They wanted to give it to people that really need it,” Kilpatrick said. “People don’t have to show anything — it’s first come, first serve.”

And if people weigh the risks and decide they do want a fully-cooked Thanksgiving meal, that will be available too, though from a different source than the canceled community dinner.

Starting at noon Nov. 21, the Open Door homeless shelter, which shares a building with the food pantry at 136 W. Third St. will hold a Thanksgiving meal fundraiser. The menu will include turkey with the usual trimmings.

The meal costs a donation price of $7.

Take out meal tickets are available. Though the Open Door discourages it, it may be possible to secure eat-in tickets as well, according to Kilpatrick.

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