For 17 years, Steve and Kay Ribbing opened their restaurant to any and all who needed a place to go on Thanksgiving.
The need was so great that T.K. Ribbings served more than 1,500 dinners in some years. The community's desire to pitch in meant the Ribbings never had to want for donated food to serve and volunteers to pitch in around the kitchen.
The Thanksgiving dinner at Ribbings is a tradition that has come to an end. The Ribbings made the tough decision earlier this year to close the restaurant, a labor of love they had lived each day for more than two decades. A grateful community should thank the Ribbings for the sacrifices they made each Thanksgiving for the past 17 years. And, a community that takes care of its own needs to find a way to fill the large shoes the Ribbings ably filled for so long.
Any community organization hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year can email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can inform those looking for a place to go or those who want to help out.
Those interested in helping can also make last-minute donations to area food pantries. The Salvation Army gives ingredients to hundreds of area families to make their own Thanksgiving dinner every year. Nearly every year, the shelves at the agency's food pantry - and shelves at many area food pantries - look awfully bare at this time of year. Those of us with the means to help should consider doing so.
For those with a little spare change in their pockets, the Salvation Army has begun its Red Kettle Campaign. Those interested in making Christmas a little brighter for an area child can look into the U.S. Marine Corps' annual Toys for Tots drive, Operation Christmas Child, the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program or countless other programs throughout the area. And, don't forget the 2013 United Way campaign. The campaign, which raises money to support 18 partner agencies and 39 local programs, has raised about 55 percent of its $1,315,000 goal. Yours is a donation that will be felt throughout the next year.
In return, you receive the best gift of all - knowing you've made a difference in the life of a neighbor.