For Evelyn and Howard Stenzel, serving the community one plate at a time has become a longtime tradition.

The McPherson couple have volunteered for the annual McPherson Community Thanksgiving dinner for as long as they can remember. The dinner is now in its 22nd year.

"Its gotten to be a place where everybody can come — its old and young and well to do, struggling — they just come together as a community, that's why its neat to help," Evelyn Stenzel said.

"It started out as a group of people, but its gotten to the point now where they'll serve 600 to 700 meals at no cost to whoever wants to come in and eat," Howard Stenzel said.

Through volunteering each year, Evelyn and Howard Stenzel have been able to get to know other volunteers, whether they are young or old.

"The thing that's neat is over the years we've seem families come in with small children and we've watched the children grow up now," Howard Stenzel said. "Its so cute. We see young kids that are just working like crazy to serve tables, so that's fun to see."

Each year, the couple volunteers at the Thanksgiving dinner by working at the same place on the serving line. But they do it each year because they love to see everyone that comes through in the holiday spirit.

"We see some people once a year down there. Its really a joyous time and just a happy time," Howard Stenzel said.

Even though they may play a small part in the dinner, its all hands on deck when it comes time to serving others.

"Businesses really contribute, they step up to the plate by contributing money to buy the food. There are other volunteers that make the food and pies,” Evelyn Stenzel said.

“The one thing that always amazes me is how well organized it is. It just clicks right along,” Howard Stenzel said.

The couple is active within the McPherson community: not only do they serve the Thanksgiving dinner, they also volunteer with Meals on Wheels and at Washington Elementary school by working with fourth and second graders.

Howard Stenzel also serves as a board member for Churches United in Ministry and can be seen singing with the Men in Harmony Barbershop Chorus.

Every year, the couple looks forward to the dinner to come together with friends and the community.

“We’ve been doing this for a while, I would say this is a tradition. We look forward to going down there and working — its just fun. Then of course we get to eat too,” Howard Stenzel laughed.

“You really feel like a part of the community,” Evelyn Stenzel said.

The 22nd Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at the McPherson High School activity center. All are welcome to attend the free dinner and no reservations are required. Volunteers may sign up for the dinner by calling 620-755-8108.

For more information, contact McPherson Community Dinners by calling 620-241-0035, by email at McPhersonCommunityDinners@gmail.com, or on their Facebook page, McPherson Community Dinners.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.