Ron Deatrick (in white apron) serves food during last Thursday's Thanksgiving meal hosted by the Deatrick family. (Putnam Sentinel/Anne Coburn-Griffis)
OTTAWA - Nov. 28 marked the 23rd time that Ron and Marita Deatrick and a community of guests have gathered at Trinity United Methodist Church Thanksgiving. The Ottawa couple decided nearly a quarter of a century ago to hold a feast for anyone in need of the feast but also those who wish the fellowship of dining companions.
The couple chose the location for its convenience, wheelchair accessibility and for the fact that they attend the church at the corner of Pratt and Main Streets. Each year, Marita Deatrick decorates the tables with fall colors and traditional Thanksgiving images.
"The earliest poster that I still have is from 1992," she notes. When asked where the 2013 guests were from, she said, "I'm guessing there have been people here from at least three different counties. There were a few from Henry County and, of course, Putnam County, and a family of four that came from Elida."
Marita said the first year they served the meal they served soup.
"But then Ron said soup was more work than a turkey meal so we began serving the traditional Thanksgiving meal."
She said attendance has gradually grown.
"The first year we had 17 attend with 34 servers. The next year we had 34 people attend with 20 people volunteering to serve."
Her husband Ron donned a white apron this year and worked behind the scenes. Volunteers, including other Trinity UMC members, cooked and served dine-in and carry-out meals.
"We have turkey, we have dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes and ham, besides all the desserts and the vegetables out in the hall," announced Dr. Mark Basinger from his post in the church kitchen.
When asked if she and her husband purchase the food, Marita modestly said, "A lot of the desserts are donated. As far as the food, a couple of the turkeys have been donated. We have a couple of families have given some nice donations because they want this to continue."
Darlene Deatrick reported that approximately 90 people were served during this years community Thanksgiving celebration.
(Nancy Kline contributed to this story.)