High demand could force Edmonton Thanksgiving tradition to move

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WATCH ABOVE: A nearly quarter century-old Thanksgiving tradition may be coming to an end. The Millbourne laundromat may not be able to continue to host a Thanksgiving dinner because of growing demand. Fletcher Kent reports. – Oct 10, 2016

A south Edmonton laundromat that has helped Edmonton’s less fortunate on Thanksgiving for more than two decades may hosted its annual event for the last time Monday.

The Millbourne Laundromat in Mill Woods hosted its 23rd annual free Thanksgiving dinner Monday, but the laundromat may no longer be big enough to hold the event because of the growing demand.

This year, between 1,200 and 1,500 people were expected to be served, which is a considerable increase from last year when 1,000 people enjoyed a free meal.

“We are trying to figure out what we’re going to do next year because we want to keep the tradition. This has become so crowded, we might need a bigger space,” Rotary Club member Song Hu said.

The Rotary Club has covered the cost of the annual event for the past eight years. The cost of this year’s meal was up to $6,000 from $4,000 last year.

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“The economy changes and we see more need in this community,” Hu said.

Keith Hamilton said he’s had a hard time finding work in his field since losing his job.

“It’s nice to get a bit of meat and some really kind and loving people,” Hamilton said.

Michael Doherty, who has been coming to the annual Thanksgiving dinner for the past seven years, said the annual event means more to him than just a free meal.

“I’ve been on the street, I’ve lived a pretty hard life, but I can come here. I appreciate what the people do here for me,” Doherty said.

“This is community. This is what Mill Woods is about – community.”

This year’s meal included 20 kilograms of macaroni salad, 40 kilograms of frozen veggies, 20 pounds of powdered mashed potatoes, 48 rings of sausage, 30 turkeys and five extra large trays of spaghetti and meatballs.