The Rim Country and its diverse residents — from those who were born here, to those who came a little later but grew up here, to new arrivals — have many tremendous traditions that help make us a community. Perhaps one of the most special is the annual Elks Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
The members of the Elks Lodge and volunteer helpers have presented the dinner, free of charge, to the community for five years now. This Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, the lodge will have its sixth dinner, and organizers have 700 tickets in distribution.
Bob Troutman and his wife, Adrienne, started the tradition in 2003, with the help of almost more volunteers than they knew what to do with. The first year, about 400 dinners were served at the Elks Lodge and more than 100 home deliveries were made.
Troutman and the Elks have already ordered the food to prepare this year’s buffet and home deliveries.
“We don’t need any food donations, but financial assistance would be appreciated,” Troutman said.
The tickets to the meal are free, but help the Elks manage seating arrangements. The meal will be served in three different seatings of about 200 per session: noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. The buffet will offer roasted turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, vegetables, rolls, jellied cranberry sauce, salad and pies. Troutman said it is also all-you-can-eat.
Tickets are available at the Elks Lodge, 1206 N. Beeline Highway; the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce; the Payson Senior Center; the Pine Library; and the Pine Senior Center Thrift Store.
DJ Craig will provide the music again this year.
Troutman said he and the Elks need about 50 volunteers to set up the lodge for the dinner, serving and cleanup. Among the many people who have been part of the community event throughout its history are Mikey Kerns, Ev Griffin, Joyce Keddington, Beverly and Dwayne Cunningham and Jerri Russell.
To make arrangements for a Thanksgiving dinner from the Elks to be delivered to the homebound, call the lodge at (928) 474-2572 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Financial help can be dropped at the Elks Lodge during the same hours, or mailed to the Payson Elks, P.O. Box 898, Payson, AZ 85547. Troutman said donations may also be made at the dinner. Checks should be made payable to the Payson Elks with the Community Thanksgiving Dinner noted on the memo line.
Help is needed for another Thanksgiving dinner. The employees of Southwest Behavioral Health Rim Guidance Center prepare Thanksgiving for the facility’s consumers each year, and have used their own money in the past. However, this year, it is expected about 200 people will be at the meal, making it necessary to buy about 26 turkeys. So, help is needed to fill the bill. Rim Guidance is asking the community to help by either donating a turkey or with financial assistance by Nov. 16. To learn more, contact Nanci Stone at the center, (928) 474-3303.