Bette J. Naffie Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner to be held Thursday

The annual Bette J. Naffie Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday at the local VFW hall, located at 1211 28th St. in Manistee. (News Advocate file photo)

The annual Bette J. Naffie Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday at the local VFW hall, located at 1211 28th St. in Manistee. (News Advocate file photo)

MANISTEE — Growing up, Bette J. Naffie learned firsthand that giving is a blessing for those on the receiving end.

“As a little girl, her family didn’t have a lot of money,” her son Jim Naffie explained. “So, the Salvation Army would bring food to my mom’s house.

“From there, she dedicated her life — over 40 years — to doing charity work with the Salvation Army.”

That circle of caring for others continues in her name.

On Thursday, all are welcome to the annual Bette J. Naffie Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner from noon to 2 p.m. at the local VFW hall, located at 1211 28th St. in Manistee.

Essentially, the event — a community Thanksgiving dinner — is in its 42nd year, having been sponsored by the Salvation Army for decades. The annual meal was renamed the Bette J. Naffie Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner after the longtime Salvation Army volunteer’s death in 2011.

Since, Naffie’s son Jim has taken the reins as host of the event. However, he learned that the Salvation Army would not be sponsoring the dinner this season.

“I was feeling like I was the only one out there,” he said. “I thought I was going to have to do it myself and donate whatever I could, because I wanted it to continue.”

Then, Naffie received a call from Lisa Spencer, administrator at the United Way of Manistee County.

“This is an even that’s been going on for more than 40 years,” Spencer said. “When we learned the Salvation Army was unable to sponsor it, we realized it’s too important of a function not to have. We didn’t want to let that happen.”

The surprise offer to sponsor the event was well received.

“It was unbelievable,” Naffie said. “All of a sudden, I wasn’t all alone and Manistee County came together for this.”

As sponsors, the United Way will provide the food and nearly 20 volunteers scheduled for duties such as setup, serving, cleanup and deliveries for home-bound residents.

Manistee County’s Dial-A-Ride will also donate its transportation services to and from the event, free of charge to guests. And of course, the VFW has once again provided its dining hall.

“This was overwhelming for me, because there I was sitting at home, calling people who volunteered last year to see if they’d be interested again,” Naffie said. “(These organizations) reached out to me. Everyone stepped up and here we are.”

Of course, the labor for Naffie, himself, is one of love.

“We carry this on because it’s important to the people who come,” he said. “They know they have a place to go on Thanksgiving. They know when they’re here, besides getting a bellyful, they have family here.

“That’s what this is: a family event.”

The Thanksgiving dinner is open to all regardless of income or circumstances and there is no need to RSVP for the dinner. However, those looking to take advantage of Dial-A-Ride’s services must call (231) 723-6525 by today for ride reservations.

Home-bound residents (those unable to leave their home, except for medical appointments) can call (231) 723-2331 by Thursday morning to have a meal delivered.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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