Peeling potatoes

Thunder Bay firefighters, from left, Dave Chony, Rob Sheppard, with his daughter Wilda Sheppard, and Marty Patterson, peel potatoes in preparations for The Salvation Army’s community Thanksgiving dinner.

While working as a firefighter in Thunder Bay over the years, Marty Patterson said he has seen a lot of hardship in the community.

Now retired, Patterson still makes time to help out at the annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving Dinner and joined about 10 firefighters on Friday peeling 200 pounds of potatoes.

“I like giving back to the community and this is a good way to give back,” said Patterson.

For the last 22 years, the Thunder Bay Professional Fire Fighters Association has partnered with The Salvation Army to provide their community dinner. It’s in their union budget to donate money to purchase food for the event, explained Kevin Anderson, fire prevention officer with Thunder Bay Fire Rescue.

“If we didn’t support it, who knows if it would keep on going,” said Anderson. “It’s not only that they come for a dinner but socially and mentally they have a place to go because a lot of people just don’t have a place to go on Thanksgiving.”

Gail Kromm, community engagement manager with The Salvation Army, said they are expecting between 300 and 350 people at The Salvation Army on Cumberland Street for the dinner that will be served by the firefighters on Sunday from 12 noon to 2 p.m.

“We’re inviting everybody who would like to come who probably couldn’t afford to have a big meal of their own, as well as people who might be alone or just couples who don’t have family here and they just like to have some time together with other people to enjoy this festive occasion,” said Kromm.

As meal prep for the full turkey dinner with gravy, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, and pie got underway on Friday, Kromm said they would be cooking up 200 pounds of potatoes and twelve 25-pound turkeys.

Kromm described the partnership with the firefighers as “wonderful” and a way for them to also share the day with their families while letting people know they are not alone in the world “and that people really care about them.”

“On Sunday the firefighters bring their wives and kids and family members, so it’s great for them to see them help out first hand,” said Anderson. “The people really appreciate it when they come.”

Close to 20 firefighters will be serving the meal on Sunday and Kromm said Iron Range Bus Lines is providing a shuttle service from city hall and the Water Street bus terminal beginning at 11:45 a.m.

(Originally published Oct. 12, 2019)

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