By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The aroma of Thanksgiving dinner filled the air Sunday at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church gym in the Parish Center as the Norman community filled their bellies.
The dinner is a tradition the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Women’s Club started and reached its 91st year Sunday.
“It’s truly a labor of love for all of us to be part of,” said Rita Ille, a Women’s Club member who helped direct the dinner this year.
Ille said many of the volunteers who help prepare for the feast end up camping out at the Parish Center checking the turkeys every hour or so the Thursday before the dinner, then do the slicing and dicing on Saturday.
This year over 750 pounds of turkey was cooked, Ille said, adding there were 19 whole birds, each at 20 to 22 pounds. The rest of the meat was turkey breasts. There were also about 250 pies made for the event.
There were 850 tickets for individuals and families to purchase, but Ille said they probably end up serving around 1,000 people because of family ticket deals they offer. The carry-out they’ve offered in recent years has also been a big hit, she said.
Many like the convenience of taking the meal home instead of eating it in the gym where there are already a lot of people, and sometimes the carry-out is helpful to those wanting to deliver the food to friends or family, Ille said.
“It’s always good to have a good meal, a delicious meal,” she said.
Last year the group raised about $7,500. Proceeds from the dinner are used to fund many Parish and community needs. Ille said they also give back about one percent of the proceeds to Wright’s IGA Supermarket for not only providing turkeys, but delivering them thawed and ready for the ladies, or “turkey sitters” as they like to call themselves.
The thing Ille enjoys the most about the event is the fellowship, friendship and camaraderie that comes along with not only preparing for the feast, but also seeing everyone the day of the event.
“It’s just beautiful, the friendships that have formed from this organization,” she said. “Thank the good lord for our blessings, that’s what Thanksgiving is all about.”
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