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Published November 26 2010

Giving of themselves: Volunteers deliver Thanksgiving meals

The streets of Moorhead were eerily quiet around noon Thursday as most people seemed to be keeping indoors, escaping the brisk weather and enjoying a home-cooked holiday feast.

But Craig Valan was among those purposefully out on the empty roads.

He and dozens of other volunteers donated their time making deliveries so hundreds in the Fargo-Moorhead area could savor a Thanksgiving meal.

Like other volunteers, Valan began his journey at 11:30 a.m. in the gymnasium of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Moorhead.

An assembly line of volunteers – displaying seamless efficiency – was finishing loading hundreds of containers with traditional fixings: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, salad and pie.

Valan carried three boxes’ worth of food to his pickup before setting off to deliver the 13 meals he’d been tasked with.

At each of his eight stops – except one where no one was home – Valan was greeted by grateful and happy faces, and sometimes a donation to give back to the church.

Mary Rolfes of Moorhead had to work Thursday afternoon and sought out a delivered meal to add convenience to her holiday.

“It helps out a lot of people, and I’m just very grateful,” Rolfes said.

Similarly, Moorhead’s Michele Noran requested meals for her and her boyfriend since they’d planned to visit family in the hospital during the afternoon hours.

She said the generosity of volunteers like Valan was “lovely and so thoughtful.”

“I just can’t imagine all the turkey dinners they have to go through and how they have to miss out on time with their families just to get everybody else their meals,” Noran said.

Valan handed over each meal with a smile as warm and comforting as the food he carried.

This was Valan’s second time volunteering to deliver Thanksgiving meals. The last time was seven years ago, and he said it was time for him “to get back to it.”

“It’s something people directly benefit from,” he said.

After spending an hour trekking around Moorhead, fighting bitter temperatures and a fierce wind, Valan finished his deliveries – ready to partake in his own holiday celebration at his sister’s home in north Fargo.

“I’m going to appreciate my sister’s warm meal more than usual,” he said, as the intoxicating scent of Thanksgiving dinner lingered in his truck.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541