Pianist Dave Seibert plays music during a past year’s community Thanksgiving meal hosted by WabiSabi. This year’s WabiSabi Thanksgiving Meal is being held on Thursday, Nov. 22, at the Grand Center. [Photo by Murice D. Miller / Moab Sun News]

It’s a wonderful time of year in Moab when hundreds of community members gather for WabiSabi’s Thanksgiving Meal.

This year, the meal is being shared on Thursday, Nov. 22, at the Grand Center. Among the many volunteers and guests will be Moab resident Sue Allemand, who has spent the Thanksgiving holiday at the WabiSabi event since its inception 14 years ago.

“My favorite part of the meal is the people,” Allemand said.

Seven hundred and fifty are expected to attend WabiSabi’s Thanksgiving Meal this year.

“It’s very much a community event,” said Nara Bopp-Williams, program director at WabiSabi, the nonprofit that organizes the meal.

The holiday meal is a chance for Moab residents to see friends and run into old acquaintances, and mix and mingle with fellow community members with whom you might not normally cross paths. Out-of-town visitors — domestic and international — are also welcome to attend. WabiSabi employee Holly Dinsmore said no one will be disappointed, even those who may be traveling from far away and show up late to the meal.

Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus has volunteered and been a guest at the WabiSabi Thanksgiving Meal.

“It’s a wonderful event for the community,” she said. “I have observed someone I know to be homeless sitting next to another community member that has a home and means, but maybe doesn’t have someone to be with on Thanksgiving Day … I am moved by the effort to bring Moab together, no matter our differences.”

The beginning of the WabiSabi Thanksgiving Meal was inspired by the efforts of a local group of women who began to celebrate the holiday with potlucks, which they felt were helpful for residents experiencing the slower-paced months of Moab’s seasonal economy. When the potlucks fell by the wayside, Dinsmore suggested to her former WabiSabi boss that it should host something in its place, and the WabiSabi Thanksgiving Meal was born.

WabiSabi, which runs a bustling thrift store in town, processes over 350 tons worth of donations per year. However, food donations are not accepted for the Thanksgiving event. Bopp-Williams said that anyone who is interested in donating to the WabiSabi Thanksgiving Meal may mail monetary gifts or certificates that can be used at local grocers. The organization’s goal is to raise $7,000 before the meal.

When it’s time to eat, WabiSabi volunteers along two buffet lines will begin to serve the food. Volunteers will clean tables, fill water pitchers and — perhaps most importantly — make sure the chafing dishes along the buffet lines are refilled with chef Ken Moody’s roasted turkey and all of the trimmings, like mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls and cranberry sauce.

Moody works 20 hours on Thanksgiving, plus 40 hours ahead of time, to prep 500 pounds of turkey and 400 pounds of mashed potatoes.

Leftover food at the end of the day is shared with Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center, a nonprofit that offers temporary shelter for women, and other volunteers and interns working in Moab. Guests may also take leftover food home once everyone has eaten.

“Everybody is cared for like they are someone special,” Allemand said.

WabiSabi prepares holiday feast with all the fixings


“Everybody is cared for like they are someone special.”

When: Thursday, Nov. 22, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Where: Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West

Cost: Free or by donation

Information: Call Liz at 435-259-2553 or email volunteer@wabisabi.org for more information. To contribute financial donations or gift certificates to local grocers, send to WabiSabi by postal mail to 160 E. 100 South