Neighbors helping neighbors: Where to find a free Thanksgiving meal

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With Thanksgiving Day a mere hours away, cooks in kitchens across Minnesota are preparing traditional holiday meals of turkey, dressing, potatoes and pumpkin pie. Not to feed their own families, but to make the day a little brighter for people who would welcome a free meal.

Thousands of Minnesotans will enjoy a free Thanksgiving meal Thursday, and the fellowship that comes with it, thanks to dozens of community organizations, churches and charities.

There are many such community meals taking place around the state on Thursday. Many of them also have meals available for takeout or delivery.

Here's a partial list, along with links where you can find more specific information.

-St. Paul: The Union Gospel Mission will serve dinner at its Men's Campus on University Avenue from 12 noon-1:30 p.m. The organization also distributed 50,000 free Thanksgiving meals in the past two days. More info here.

-Minneapolis: Several organizations are providing free Thanksgiving meals, including the Salvation Army – with two Minneapolis locations and one in Burnsville. More info here.

A list of other Minneapolis locations serving dinner is available here.

-Alexandria: The community's first "Thanksliving meal," including food and family activities, will be at the Alexandria VFW hall beginning at 11 a.m. More info here.

-Bemidji: The community's 36th annual Thanksgiving dinner will be held this year at St. Philip's Catholic Church. Dinner is served from 12 noon-1:30 p.m. More info here.

-Brainerd: Dinner will be served at the American Legion hall from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. It's organized by several community groups including the American Legion, the VFW, the Elks and Eagles. More info here.

-Duluth: Possibly the largest Thanksgiving dinner in the state; organizers expect to serve 6,000 people this year. Dinner is served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC). More info here.

-Faribault: It's the 28th year for Faribault's community Thanksgiving. About 1,200 people were served last year. Dinner begins at 11 a.m. at American Legion Post #43. More info here.

-Hibbing: Dinner is from 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m. at St. Leo’s Hall in Assumption School. Last year, volunteers served 950 dinners. More info here.

-Marshall: Thanksgiving dinner will be served at the National Guard Armory in Marshall from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The community dinner was started more than 20 years ago by Cathy and Jim Hively, longtime area residents who were shot to death by intruders in May and their house set on fire.

New Ulm: Dinner will be served at St. Mary's Catholic Church from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. More info here.

-Owatonna: About 1,000 people will enjoy Thanksgiving dinner from volunteers in Owatonna. Dinner will be at the VFW Hall from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. More info here.

In addition, the Salvation Army will serve Thanksgiving dinner in several outstate Minnesota communities: Austin, Fairmont, Fergus Falls, International Falls, Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud. You can find more details here on times and places in those cities.

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