There’s been discussion in recent years about that first Thanksgiving, and it probably didn’t go the way we learned it in elementary school or on the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  What was undoubtedly true was that the few surviving colonists were extremely vulnerable and constantly living on edge as they tried to survive in the strange and harsh new world.

Many believe the notion of Native Americans and Pilgrims getting together to share a meal in brotherly fashion was a story cooked up by President Abraham Lincoln, as an attempt to try and unite a divided nation.

1621 was a pretty good harvest season, and a real cause for the Pilgrims to celebrate.  Many did so by shooting off guns.   That sent off an alarm to the local tribe, who wondered what was going on.  Ancestors and historians of the Wampanoag tribe recount that they sent out a party of 90 warriors to check it out.  They camped nearby, did a fair amount of hunting, and at some point over the three days, food was shared.  The tribe probably did a lot of things in Squanto-like fashion to help the fragile Pilgrims.

Fast forward 400 years and the local tribe in Calhoun County is still reaching out to vulnerable citizens.

For the eleventh consecutive year, FireKeepers Casino Hotel is handing out its annual donation of 2,500 turkeys.  Five area food banks, as well as The Kendall Street Pantry in Battle Creek, will be able to help those less fortunate enjoy a traditional meal this holiday season.

Since opening, FireKeepers Casino Hotel has made it a point to contribute to area food banks and many community organizations not only during the holiday season but throughout the year.  This also includes distributions to the FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board (FLRSB), distributions to the state of Michigan, as well as focusing business operations on local spending.

“We are especially proud to be able to help our neighbors in need this year, and every year for the past 11 that we’ve been operating,” stated FireKeepers CEO, Kathy George. “2020 has been a year of irregularities, but one thing our community can depend upon is support from FireKeepers Casino Hotel and its owners, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi.”

This Thanksgiving, FireKeepers and the FireHub on Kendall Street in Battle Creek will be preparing dinner with all the trimmings for anybody in need, and handing them out across the street at the City Public Works parking lot, across the street from the FireHub.

Mike McFarlen-Firekeepers Casino photo

Chef Mike McFarlen says anybody can stop by between 11 am and 3 pm to get dinner.  “Normally we open the Fire Hub and invite everyone in and do a plated Thanksgiving meal.  This year with various orders and with COVID, we are doing a drive-thru model,” said McFarlen.  “They’re going to be able to drive up with their cars.  We’re going to direct them to an area and ask them how many people are in their family.  They’re going to drive a little further and we’re going to have pre-packaged meals that they can take home.”   Chef McFarlen says volunteers will put the dinners in the back seat, or trunk or wherever, but that people won’t need to even get out of their cars.

Chef McFarlen says they’ll be serving turkey, stuffing, gravy, and mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and macaroni and cheese, and a special dessert created by the bakery.  It’ll be packaged in tins separately so they can be put out on the table for serving or reheat as needed.

Last year, The Fire Hub was able to provide more than 600 Thanksgiving dinners, and expect to do even more this year!  Chef McFarlen says they’re planning for 1000 meals, and he hopes that will be enough.

“We don’t ask for your name.  We don’t ask for your income.  It’s there for the community". said Chef McFarlen.  "We just do it because it’s the right thing to do. We have a great relationship with the people of the community and it’s a great day for us to be able to say thank you for supporting us in the business endeavors and give back to people who are just a little down on their luck or a little less fortunate right now.”

Anyone interested in coming out for a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day can call The Fire Hub at 269.753.0065 for more information.

  • Who: FireKeeper’s Casino Hotel and the Fire Hub
  • What: Free Thanksgiving Dinner
  • When: Thursday, November 26th, 2020
  • Where: The Battle Creek Department of Public Works, 150 South Kendall Street, across the street from the Fire Hub
  • Why: “Because it’s the right thing to do.”
Public Works Building-City of Battle Creek
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