WASILLA — Frontline Mission is on a mission to bring the people of the Mat-Su Valley together for a full course feast, live music and entertainment and community connectedness on Thanksgiving Day.

Anyone looking for a warm meal and plenty of people to talk to is invited to join Frontline Mission staff and volunteers for their annual Thanksgiving Dinner event at the Menard Center Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“It’s just an opportunity for people to come together,” Frontline Mission food distribution coordinator Don Houk said.

Most of the food is in. Staff and volunteers are gearing up for one of the biggest mass feeding events in the Valley.

Frontline Mission put food on about 1,500 plates last year, according to Houk. He said they’re anticipating serving over 1,700 plates this year. This reflects the steady growth of attendees they’ve seen over the years. He said that attendance grows about 10 percent each year.

Houk said that over 250 volunteers work this event each year, filling a spectrum of positions. From kitchen staff to greeters, there’s no short supply of positions to fill. He said there’s many repeat volunteers who mark their calendars for this event each year and about 90 people signed up the first day registration opened.

“I think it’s something people look forward too,” Houk said.

There’s a strong sense of camaraderie amongst the volunteers who enjoy plenty of playful banter while they work hard for their community, according to Houk.

“The camaraderie you get in the kitchen, a lot of kidding but a lot of serious work. We’re putting out a lot of food as fast as we can but even then, there’s still time to chat. Sometimes we have families. You look at who’s serving you know- mom, dad, son, daughter that sort of thing. They fill the line,” Houk said with a laugh.

Frontline Mission program coordinator Matt Sheets said that he enjoys the sense of camaraderie so rampant in this event, how it builds on itself each year. He said it becomes a habit for a lot of individuals, groups and families, a fun and charitable way to spend the holidays.

“We have a great community that comes together anyway and events like this fuel that. I really believe that. It really is amazing,” Sheets said. “People want to come and they just want to help. I really brings out, I think, the best in the community… It’s both a giving and a receiving for everyone at the meal.”

While the volunteer slots filled up rather quickly this year, Sheets noted they are still looking for anyone interested in signing up for this event.

For more questions or to inquire about available volunteer slots via telephone, call 907-357-8600. They can also be reached by email at helpfrontlinemission@gmail.com.

To access their website, visit frontlinemission.org

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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