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The spirit of giving: Local woman gives out over 300 Thanksgiving dinners

Thanksgiving is a time for families to gather around a table loaded with food, but many can’t afford that. But, there are people in the community working to change that.

Kelli Marshall has been putting together Thanksgiving dinner boxes for the past 17 years. Each box contains about 18 items, all donated from various places around the state.

“It’s goes as simple as packages of gravy, jello, cookies, pies,” said Marshall. “The pan. Sam’s Club donates rolls. Butter, potatoes, yams, three cans of vegetables, stuffing, a turkey, a pie.”

This year, Marshall is giving away over 300 boxes along with $10 for the families to spend. It all began when Marshall was a teacher at Dora Erickson Elementary School. She saw how many families were in need of a Thanksgiving dinner and decided to help out. Now, 17 years later, she’s still giving.

“It’s so important and it pulls together so many different facets of the community,” Debra Green, volunteer and life long friend to Marshall, said. “Kelli is instrumental in making sure everyone is involved. They feel included. You feel like you walk away feeling like you’ve done something good.”

Don’t expect Marshall to take any credit. She says it’s all about bringing different people in the community together.

“The whole reason this is so outstandingly special is because, yes I organize it, but it’s because of this whole community,” said Marshall. “I call it ecumenical outreach because there are many, many people who help bring in boxes and because of their help, we’re able to help many other people.”

As for how long she will keep doing this?

“The problem is, I have so many friends in this town that they help me every year and say we want to continue to help,” said Marshall. “So until my husband retires, then we’ll probably, or move away, I will continue to do this. Because it’s just, it’s fun.”

It’s safe to say that, thanks to Marshall, many families will be stuffed this Thanksgiving.

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