LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)—The first La Crosse Community Thanksgiving Dinner was 31-years ago; about 300 people attended.
Now it's grown to a meal for about 3,500.
It takes about 900 pounds of stuffing, 1,200 pounds of turkey and 500 hundred pumpkin pies to feed everyone.
Dozens of students from Holmen High School's National Honor Society and gymnastics team volunteered to set up Thursday's meal.
They spent all morning at the La Crosse Center decorating, setting tables and preparing food.
Junior Lynsey Malin's chore was straining green beans for the big dinner.
"It's nice to be able to give back and make sure everyone is able to enjoy this time of year," Malin said.
Jacob Johnson, Holmen High School Senior, was a runner, helping out where ever needed.
"It's definitely worth it," Johnson said. "We may not be here to see the people actually have a good time. It's rewarding to know they get to eat and have a good time."
That's just what Emma Madsen, Holmen High School Senior, thought too as she sorted beads for Thanksgiving Day crafts.
"I've never been here for it afterwards but I know it's really busy so it's a good success," Madsen said.
Madsen said volunteering at Community Thanksgiving with her gymnastics team helps her remember she has a lot to be thankful for.
"It's good for our team too because we get to bond with each other," Madsen said.
Everyone is invited to the La Crosse Community Thanksgiving.
Doors open Thursday morning at 10, a worship service will begin at 10:30 and dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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