Leader of Bonner Community Thanksgiving Dinner ready to hand over reigns
After 21 years, LeAnne DeTar Newbert says she is handing the reigns of the Bonner Springs Community Thanksgiving Dinner to the next generation.
And she means that quite literally — this year’s 22nd annual dinner Nov. 26 at the Bonner Springs First Christian Church, 148 N. Nettleton Ave., is the beginning of the transition of leadership to her daughter, Jordan Sawyer.
“I think it’s always important to plan for succession, and it’s important to not let it be a senior kind of thing – I wasn’t a senior when I started this, but I am now,” Newbert said. “Getting our youth, our young adults involved in things early is vital, I think. In the church, we use the term ‘Always looking for a Joshua.’”
The free community dinner is open to everyone, whether they are financially unable to have their own meal, aren’t able to spend Thanksgiving with family or just want to enjoy a meal with the community. It will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and anyone interested in homebound delivery meals should call 913-441-3876.
Because Newbert’s family has adopted the Community Thanksgiving Dinner as its own, Sawyer and even out of town relatives are usually there, anyway, so Newbert said her daughter is a natural fit for carry on the organization of the dinner.
“Jordan has only known going to the church, she’s never known anything else,” Newbert said. “When we started it in ‘94, she was only 1 year old, so she’s never known staying at home to make a Thanksgiving dinner.”
Newbert said she hopes Sawyer’s natural talents will help improve the dinner and attract more people.
“She’s an interior designer — she’s very, very creative, so I'm sure she will add things that will make it better,” Newbert said. “She sees things different ways and has the skills to put it together. Our goal is always to have people see God in us, so she will be able to do that in a whole new way.”
The dinner is organized in partnership with Vaughn-Trent Community Services and Feed His Lambs, and several area churches and organizations have made it an annual tradition to provide certain items for the meal each year. Newbert said this year, they have reached out to others who aren’t part of the “routine.”
“They have been incredibly generous, I'm very pleased with that,” she said. “The cost per person is about $3.50, so I asked them to just donate a flat amount or a number of meals, so they can understand the impact they are making. All of our donations have been big ones, and that’s just thrilling for me, that they buy in.”
Don’t expect Newbert to disappear from the dinner; in addition to the fact that it has become her family’s Thanksgiving even, she expects it to be a gradual transition. She said the goal is for Sawyer to completely take over the event in the 25th year.
Basehor VFW Post 11499 will have its eighth annual dinner this weekend, from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the post’s building, 2806 N. 155th St., open to all veterans and senior citizens as well as one chaperone of that senior citizen.