MUSCATINE — The Knights of Columbus spent Wednesday running food to what they estimate is 1,000 people in need this Thanksgiving.

"This is a major one for us," said Jeff Smith, a volunteer. "A lot of folks involved in it. Not just the Knights' people. And every one of them helps get these meals to the people that need them."

Jim Weigand, the originator of the food drive said that the days leading up to it were tough. 

"The last few days have been kind of exciting for me just trying to put the final touches on — and my wife did all the computer work," Weigand said. "She had to make all the schedules for all the drivers so we know where all the dinners are going. It's a whole lot to do, but it's great to have it all ready for delivery."

The Thanksgiving deliveries have been going on for nine years. But Weigand said that this year is a special one. This year he sharing the organizing tasks with his co-chairs Eric and Emily Blair.

"Eric and his wife, Emily, they are taking over the program," Weigand said. "I'm starting to get old and feeling it. So we'll let the youngins belly up now and take care of it."

"Jim's in the process of transitioning it to our family to make sure it continues for many more years," Eric Blair said. "Jim started this (nine) years ago. It's grown so much. We'd like to see it grow." 

For Blair, the meal delivery coming at this time of year is folded into the message of the ministry.

"Thanksgiving is a good time to remind us to give thanks for the things we have and to hopefully bless other people with a hot meal that may not have that opportunity otherwise," Blair said. "If it is one day a year that they get to sit down and enjoy their family and enjoy a nice hot meal and they don't have to worry about who is going to pay for it or where is it going to come from ..."

Pamela Keefe was one of the people along the delivery route.

"For us and for our family, it's a blessing," Keefe said. "I broke my leg earlier this year, and I'm still recovering. I'm not able to be in the kitchen for long periods of time. So it gives us a nice Thanksgiving meal without all the hard work."

Keefe's husband is a member of the Knights of Columbus. She said that she knew each of the men delivering meals that day. 

"They are just a good group of guys that do good deeds. We've given and we've received," Keefe said. "It's a season where you need to receive and to give. But it is humbling to receive."

Both Blair and Weigand expressed their gratitude to be running these meals in this city.

"The important thing is the smiles on the faces of the people who really have a genuine need and are thankful that there are others out there that are thinking of them. Whether you know them or not, whether they speak English or not, it doesn't matter. When you deliver a meal to somebody and they have a big smile on their face, you don't need words. 

"Once again it came together successfully," Weigand said. "That's very rewarding for us. For our church, for our city, for our people, I have to say, Muscatine is the greatest. It is absolutely the greatest. Generous people. Kind people. People who are concerned about their fellow man."

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