Ginter Thanksgiving Dinner celebrates 53 years - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ginter Thanksgiving Dinner celebrates 53 years

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Donna Ginter, a well-known philanthropist in Dubuque, started the Ginter family Thanksgiving dinner 53 years ago as a way to get a Thanksgiving meal to those in need.

She was the driving force behind 51 annual Thanksgiving meals before her death last year.

But when that happened, there was little doubt in the mind of her daughter, Genny Ginter, that the meal would go on.

"She made me promise to keep it going if something happened to her," Ginter said.

And she's kept that promise.

Ginter said this meal has been a year in the making, although the real hands-on work has only started in the past couple of weeks.

She started cooking turkeys, 86 to be exact, on Monday, and will finish up today. She runs 31 roasters at a time.

In fact, the Moose Lodge -- where she does all of her prep work -- got a grant to rewire the building to allow enough electricity for the roasters.

"I guess that means I'm here for a long time," Ginter said.

She'll store all that meat, along with the dressing and yams, in 77 roasters that she owns. 

And early tomorrow morning, she and nearly 300 volunteers will deliver nearly 2,000 meals to elderly, disabled and shut-ins around Dubuque.  Then, they'll open the doors of the Knights of Columbus early in the afternoon to host another 400 people for a Thanksgiving feast.

Santa will even be making an appearance, she said.

And while they're delivering meals, more volunteers will be cutting 600 pies.

It's a staggering amount of food and effort put into this meal.

"I've been working 15-, 16-, 18-hour days for the past week," Ginter said. "Yesterday was a 20-hour day."

But it's all worth it, she says, and a no-brainer to keep it going even after her mom is gone.

"She worked really hard to get this going for a lot of years," Ginter said.  "She believes, and our family believes, that there's always been a need for it. To us, it's just second nature. There are a lot of older, handicapped and shut-ins that really need the meal."

The Thanksgiving meal is open to the public from 1:30-3 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus in Dubuque.

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