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Manna delivers hundreds of Thanksgiving meals to families in Durango, La Plata County

Nearly 600 runners participate in Turkey Trot at Fort Lewis College
Cynthia Moon, right, and Rebecca Thomas load 68 Thanksgiving meals to be delivered to people in Durango and La Plata County on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, at Manna soup kitchen. The Vineyard Church coordinated the delivery of at least 440 meals. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Manna soup kitchen staff members and two dozen volunteers worked away at bagging free Thanksgiving meals for residents to pick up or have delivered on Thursday, and helpers were in good moods.

Meanwhile, across town, brisk autumn air and overcast skies didn’t slow down nearly 600 Durango-area residents and visitors from out of town during the Turkey Trot 5- and 1-mile races at Fort Lewis College.

About 800 meals had already been prepared and packaged or picked up by noon, Manna Executive Chef Seanan Culloty said.

Vineyard Church assisted Manna in delivering meals.

Megan Feuerbacher, culinary specialist at Manna, said it was “awesome” to have so many volunteers turn out to help feed the community. Volunteers worked at four different food stations in the soup kitchen, including two hot food stations, one salad station and one pie station.

She said helping others is why she works at Manna.

“Everyone’s just happy it’s Thanksgiving. We’re all just having a good time,” she said. “ … It’s a lot of work and it takes about a month and a half of prep. It’s what we’re here for.”

Volunteers put together Thanksgiving meals on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, at Manna soup kitchen for walks-ups and deliveries. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Fran Hecht, who manages Manna’s food market four days a week, said she’d been prepping salads for about four hours on Thursday, and she had just about had enough of that.

“I moved to Durango about 13 or 14 years ago, and I started volunteering at Manna because I was a social worker as a young person, so I know the value of doing this,” she said. “Especially as I’ve gotten older. I’m healthy and I’m strong and I want to give back for as long as I can.”

Manna Executive Director Ann Morse said having so many volunteers helping with meals “warms my heart.”

Manna soup kitchen Executive Director Ann Morse said she anticipated providing at least 1,000 Thanksgiving meals for walks-ups and deliveries on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. She said turnout by about two dozen volunteers who helped ready the meals “warmed my heart.” (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Turkey Trot has strong turnout

Back at Fort Lewis College, spirits were jovial as spectators gathered on the college campus to cheer on runners of all ages.

Some participants wore colorful costumes or turkey hats and made their best attempts at imitating turkey gobbles as they crossed the finish line.

Jeff and Devon Rose and their two daughters traveled from Salt Lake City to spend Thanksgiving with friends in Durango.

Jeff Rose, who completed the 5-mile race in about 39 minutes, said Thursday marked their sixth Turkey Trot.

“I think this is a great way to show off a community,” he said. “We’re from Salt Lake, which is kind of a bigger city. And this community has such a wonderful feel to it and I think this is a nice (representation of that).”

For this Thanksgiving Day, Jeff said he’s thankful for the races. Devon Rose said she’s happy to be surrounded by her loved ones.

“The course goes up through the neighborhood and it crosses this reservoir. And you’re breathing too hard and all this stuff,” Jeff said. “But just for a minute there, it’s really nice to just take it in. You’re out here, you’re healthy, your body’s moving.”