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Thanksgiving in Dubuque won’t seem the same without hundreds of volunteers helping the Ginter family serve up and deliver thousands of meals to those in need.

Wisely, Ginter family members realized in September that there likely would be no safe way to cook, serve and deliver Thanksgiving Day meals given the throngs of people required to gather together for the occasion. That was a good call. The public health risk due to COVID-19 continues to grow.

The tradition of serving a huge Thanksgiving dinner, started by the late Donna Ginter in 1962, has been a Dubuque staple for more than half a century and a point of pride in terms of filling a community need.

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Put supporting next year’s Ginter Thanksgiving Dinner on your 2021 to-do list, and let’s think about ways to fill the void this year.

For starters, there’s the food, and several area nonprofits are taking a run at making that happen.

About 1,000 free meals will be delivered and ready for carryout on Thanksgiving through the combined efforts of Q Casino and Hotel, Dubuque Racing Association, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Salvation Army of Dubuque, Faith Temple United Pentecostal Church and United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States. The effort grew out of the food provider network created at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Food services and resources gathered by the group are featured on the Feed Dubuque County Facebook page.

While it might not be a Ginter-caliber event, the effort still will require volunteers, including delivery drivers and people to help assemble meals. A reminder, every volunteer must observe the strictest of COVID-19 precautions and only help if you are able.

Another holiday tradition mostly lost this Thanksgiving might even be missed more than the turkey dinner with all the trimmings would be: gathering together.

We know that lives are put at risk and transmissions will certainly increase if people gather with extended family and friends for the holidays. In one sense, it’s hard to imagine the holidays without the presence of loved ones. But think for a minute about the hundreds of families in the tri-state area who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 already. The empty chairs at their tables this Thanksgiving take on a wholly different meaning.

But not gathering in person doesn’t mean forgoing making connections this holiday season. In fact, it might be more important than ever to reach out with phone calls, virtual meetings or brief greetings from a distance to those who might find themselves alone this Thanksgiving.

There are lots of things about Thanksgiving 2020 that might be disappointing. But as communities rally around those in need, it’s a good reminder to cherish the things we have and to reach out to others to stay connected. Here’s hoping we’re back to drafting hundreds of volunteers for a Ginter dinner next year.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald’s Editorial Board.