DES MOINES, Iowa — The trademark portion of any Thanksgiving gathering is the dinner, and Iowans were doing their part to make sure everyone had the chance to enjoy one by giving out those meals for free.
The days leading up to Thanksgiving at the South Gate Masonic Lodge in Des Moines are pretty packed; volunteer chefs were hard at work in the two days leading up to Thanksgiving, prepping for their annual meal giveaway.
"We'd like to be able to have a place where people can come if they don't have someone to spend Thanksgiving with or they don't have the funds to purchase their own food," said Josh Williams, who helped organize the giveaway.
And the 2022 dinner is special, as organizers are celebrating 25 years of giving away their Thanksgiving meals and spreading a little bit of extra holiday cheer.
The people receiving those meals say it really makes a difference for the holidays. One woman who spoke to Local 5 said that she's been getting her Thanksgiving dinner from the lodge for 20 years.
"It was beautiful, like heaven, coming here ever year, to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal," said Cheng Poh, who received a free meal.
Elsewhere in the city, Chuck's Restaurant was also giving out their annual free dinners—after receiving a little help from the community, as they searched for an extra-large mixing bowl for their mashed potatoes.
Wherever Iowans got their Thanksgiving fill, one thing banded together all of the organizers, volunteers and cooks in the kitchen—a desire to simply do some good.
"The staple of Thanksgiving is a good hot turkey meal," Williams said. "So we'd like to be able to provide that, and it just makes us feel good to be able to do so."
Williams told Local 5 that the Lodge gave out just under 1,000 meals to the community for Thanksgiving.