turkeyGrowing up in the Quad Cities, I remember watching Bob Vogelbaugh, aka Mr. Thanksgiving, announce his annual Thanksgiving dinner on the news or the radio every year and wondering how he managed to cook up all that food by himself to feed more than 2,000 people. Now that I’m older I realize just how much he relies on donations and volunteers to make this event happen.

Vogelbaugh is a former Moline grocery store owner who began this tradition in his small grocery store more than forty years ago. His Thanksgiving feast was held at his store for seven more years until it grew so large that he had to move it to the second floor of the YWCA, where volunteers had to carry people in wheelchairs up the stairs because there was not an elevator! Now the event takes place at Southpark Mall where Vogelbaugh says volunteers are the backbone of the event. Volunteers don’t need to sign up, they can instead just show up ready to work. They also accept donations of pies at the mall office on Wednesday, November 25, or near the children’s play area at the former Deb space on Thursday, November 26.

This year is a special occasion. It is the 45th year of the Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. As of November 12th though, the dinner was in slight jeopardy. Vogelbaugh, in an interview with KWQC, announced that to put on this dinner, he relies on donations of around $16,000 from the community and that he was only at $4,000. Check out his interview, the QC Online website, and the Southpark Mall event calendar for more information about where you can send monetary donations and how else you can help.

If you’re interested in attending the dinner, it will be served on Thursday, November 26th, from 4 to 6pm at Southpark Mall! Need a tide? Contact Metrolink at 309-788-3360.

happy thanksgiving

The title of this amazing book, full of incredible stories about women overcoming obstacles, is taken from an old Chinese proverb: “Women hold up half the sky.”  The authors, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, and I first saw their work featured on the Oprah show.  Their primary premise is that, “Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population … Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.”

Rather than tire the reader with boring statistics,  the authors wisely chose to illustrate their point by letting us “get to know” individual women.  Warning — the majority of these reports are very sad, even horrific at times, dealing with subjects such as sexual slavery, inequities in gender education, and maternal mortality.  However, each chapter is also followed by a success story, proving time and time again that one person can make a difference.

April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week; I can’t think of a better book to read for it than this.  Besides a plentitude of inspiration, the final chapter gives suggestions on “What You Can Do” with “Four Steps You Can Take in the next Ten Minutes.”  Step One?  Go to GlobalGiving or Kiva and open an account.

mlkToday is a federal holiday, set aside to honor the Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Born in Atlanta, King was a Baptist minister that became active in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. His eloquent speaking ability inspired millions of people and he won the Nobel Prize in 1964 for leading nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. King was assassinated in April, 1968.

Try honoring the memory of King by participating todays Martin Luther King National Day of Service; President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden and their families are planning on helping with volunteer projects in Washington DC today. The National Day of Service encourages everyone to contribute to their community, big or small, today and every day. Check their website for a list of local projects, or create one yourself!

By the way, even though many state and city offices are closed today, the Davenport Library will be open our regular hours – 12pm-8pm at Main and 9:30am-5:30pm at Fairmount. Have a great day!