COEUR d’ALENE — The first Thanksgiving was a time when two communities came together as one to feast on a bountiful autumn harvest and give thanks for new friends and new surroundings.
The first Thanksgiving at the Lola and Duane Hagadone Boys and Girls Club on Thursday wasn't much different. More than 400 members and parents from the Post Falls Jordan Johnson Center and the Coeur d'Alene site broke bread and shared the first holiday meal in the gymnasium of the new facility.
But rather than having to grind their own corn and hunt their own meat like the first Thanksgiving's Pilgrims and American Indians, Boys and Girls Club guests enjoyed a restaurant-style meal served to their tables by about 75 friendly volunteers.
"The whole idea tonight is we have a whole group of volunteers and we just want to serve the parents. Don't lift a hand, if you need something, holler at us," said Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County Executive Director Ryan Davis. "We look at this as a family. It's another step in the whole idea of creating family. And the reality is, some of these kids won't have a Thanksgiving. But it's the idea of getting everybody together, having some family, having a good time and letting everybody walk away understanding not only do the staff care about them, it's the community. I think that says a lot."
Bankers, board members, Realtors, church members and other big-hearted community members monitored the aisles, checking on plates and drinks while parents and club members visited and enjoyed a free meal of turkey with all the trimmings. Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing and more was donated by local businesses.
"I think it's cool," said club member Ayla Knapp, 12, who is active in an after-school group at the club.
"I think it's really wonderful," said Ayla's mom, Hollie Knapp of Coeur d'Alene. "What better way to get together than food?"
Jeremy Riggs of Hayden and six of his seven children attended the club's Thanksgiving.
"The kids were excited to come to this," he said with a chuckle as the kids intermittently grinned up at him to request another piece of apple, cherry or pumpkin pie.
It was his first time visiting the Coeur d'Alene site as his kids are members in Post Falls. He said having the Thanksgiving meal with both clubs and their families was a good thing.
"It brings a lot of people together," he said. "They have a lot of friends through the Boys and Girls Club. This gives them a chance to hang out."
Lea Spencer, holding with her 1-month-old daughter Abigail, places a Thanksgiving dinner in front of Jack Lewis as Chelsea Lewis and Jon Miller watch at the inaugural Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday at the Lola and Duane Hagadone Boys and Girls Club.
Volunteers make up plates loaded with Thanksgiving dinners Thursday evening at the inaugural Thanksgiving Dinner at the Lola and Duane Hagadone Boys and Girls Club in Coeur d'Alene. More than 70 people volunteered, while various local businesses and individuals donated the food.