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Monday, November 5th, 2007

Community meal revived for this Thanksgiving

By Timothy Cox
The Giving Thanks community Thanksgiving dinner in Celina will survive after officials previously had said there were not enough volunteers to pull off the event.
Bruce Swonger has agreed to head up the effort and pull together the hundreds of volunteers needed to stage the dinner that is less than three weeks away. Swonger didn't provide details of how he will accomplish the monumental feat, but vowed to do so.
"We've got a standing committee, and I'm still learning the ropes," Swonger told The Daily Standard. "I'm counting on some of the old-timers to help me out. This thing has been successful for so many years, and it's such a wonderful program, I just couldn't let it die."
Swonger's brother Scott is co-chairing the event.
The traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Celina High School. Similar events of the same name also will be held in St. Marys and Montezuma.
Carry-out meals are available.
Phil and lyn Cozadd of Celina, the founders of the event, praised Swonger's decision to step forward and keep the tradition going. The Cozadds launched the Giving Thanks dinner in 1999. That year, volunteers served 282 meals; last year, more than 900 were served.
"It's free and it's for everybody," Phil Cozadd said, something that was a goal when he and his wife started the event.
It takes literally hundreds of volunteers to stage the community dinner, Phil Cozadd said. Employees of The Daily Standard, for example, cook the turkeys, as they will again this year. Organizers also need dozens of people to serve food and help out on Thanksgiving Day. The event also needs donations of time, food and money.
Swonger can be reached at 419-852-1212.
Organizers need folks to bake pies and bring salads and side dishes to the event. Donors can drop off such items beginning at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
The event is first-come, first-serve, but there always has been plenty of food to go around, the Cozadds said. Leftover food is donated to a local food pantry.
"We urge people to come out and enjoy the fellowship and food," lyn Cozadd said.
In recent years, Giving Thanks organizers have staged deliveries of meals to home-bound people. They would like to do so again, but likely won't have the volunteers to pull it off, organizers said. Instead, they are hoping for a "neighbor-to-neighbor" approach to get meals to people who can't make it out.
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