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Mr. Thanksgiving Hosts Another Drive-Through Turkey Dinner

Bob Vogelbaugh, a.k.a. "Mr. Thanksgiving," explains the details of the drive-through dinner at SouthPark Mall.

Mr. Thanksgiving is back for his 51st community dinner.

With the help of Hy-Vee, MetroLink, and SouthPark Mall, Bob Vogelbaugh is organizing a drive-through dinner. Anyone can come by the mall and pick up a free Thanksgiving meal on Thursday the 25th between 4 and 6 PM.

A former grocery-store owner, Vogelbaugh started the event more than half a century ago when he realized many of his customers had no holiday plans. He invited several of them for a Thanksgiving meal at his store.
51 years ago, eight people attended the dinner. Last year's drive-through served more than 3,200.

A map of the drive-through route through SouthPark Mall.

"This is our 51st year, and I'm not stepping down till I'm in the ground. As long as I can walk and talk, I'm going forward every year. And maybe some year we'll be back inside SouthPark Mall."

As the Thanksgiving event has grown more popular every year, the cost has gone up as well: Vogelbaugh has raised $1,800 so far of the $30,000 he'll need to pay for it.

You can support the dinner by mailing a check to Mr. Thanksgiving (3704 26th Street in Moline, 61265) or by donating in the checkout line of local Hy-Vee stores.

Vogelbaugh made a special point to thank Connie McElyea of SouthPark Mall and Vicki Birdsell-Baker, a retired Moline schoolteacher, who he calls the backbone of the dinner.

Those who can't drive to the dinner can call Metrolink (788-3360) by noon on Monday, November 22, to arrange a ride.

Aaryan Balu first set foot in audio journalism at WTJU Charlottesville and WRIR Richmond, and now works as WVIK Quad Cities NPR's Fellowship Host.
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