Volunteers at WabiSabi’s 2011 Hands Up Thanksgiving community dinner give a “hands up”. From left to right: Charlie Bruce, John Townely, Genie Mudd, Lynne Mitchell, and Lisa Mecham. [Courtesy WabiSabi]

WabiSabi is providing a free community Thanksgiving dinner this year at the Grand Center. Everyone is invited to attend or volunteer at the event.

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This is the seventh year WabiSabi has offered its Hands Up Thanksgiving dinner. Last year 500 meals were served. Over 100 volunteers cook, serve, clean, decorate and coordinate the meal.

The Youth Garden Project and the Grand Center contribute their facilities for cooking and serving. BEACON After School Program provides the decorations.

Numerous businesses from about town donate the desserts and beverages. The Executive Chef of Cabo Grill, Zachary Davidson, will volunteer his time and talent this year to create the main meal, which will include turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings.

“There are tons of people in this town that have no family to spend the holidays with,” said Holly Dinsmore, WabiSabi’s Warehouse Manager and organizer of the Hands Up community meals. “We don’t want people to be alone during the holidays. Also, this is the off-season. People are getting laid off, and money is a real issue.”

However, as Dinsmore pointed out, the Thanksgiving dinner is more about creating a sense of community than just helping people through lean economic times. She notes that a broad cross-section of the community attends each year, from schoolteachers and business owners to the unemployed and homeless.

“The free meal is appreciated, but the bonds of community are essential,” Dinsmore said.

WabiSabi is now seeking volunteers to help with meal setup, serving and cleanup.

Dinsmore said that generous community involvement is vital to the success of the event.

“It’s over-the-top fabulous,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing to see tons of volunteers step up each year. People from everywhere in the community just jump-in and help set tables, cook the food and serve it.”

WabiSabi is unable to take food donations from individuals and everything must be prepared in a commercial kitchen. However, financial contributions to the event are appreciated.

“Hands Up is a chance for the individuals, nonprofits and businesses of Moab to unite in sustaining area residents and the community at large,” she said.