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Multiple businesses, non-profits and volunteers came together last week to serve over 400 members of the community a Thanksgiving meal for Columbia Community Mental Health’s (CCMH) 23rd Annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

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Judges, commissioners, business owners, CCMH clients and their families, and citizens gathered at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Nov. 21 to “celebrate this amazing community we all live in.”

It took some work preparing for the big day. First there was a massive amount of potatoes to contend with. The Columbia Pacific Food Bank offered a portion of their large freezer to store the potatoes until they were ready to be peeled. Warren Community Fellowship hosted a “peeling party” and, according to CCMH PR and Director of Development Hope Wirta, employees from the St. Helens Recreation Center “peeled potatoes until their fingers fell off.”

Our local Safeway donated $1,000 towards the dinner, and St. Helens Market Fresh donated 17 turkeys that weighed in at over 25 lbs. a piece. Employees with St. Helens Wauna Credit Union served and bussed tables all day. CCMH added approximately 70 volunteers to the effort, and, with the exception of the pies and rolls, the entire meal was prepared from scratch.

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Wirta said there were many others that contributed to the success of the event, and she loves working for a place that allows her to do something like this and call it a job.

“It was just so cool to see the community be like a family having Thanksgiving dinner together,” Wirta said. “There were tears in lots of people’s eyes. It was beautiful.”

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