As Within So Without

A Thanksgiving Tradition -All Are Welcome

Bob Vogelbaugh's Thanksgiving Tradition-All Are Welcome 
Mr Thanksgiving Bob

It was a beautiful Thanksgiving Day, 1970, and Bob Vogelbaugh, was at his grocery store when a 90-something-year-old woman named Rose unloaded her cart; Bob noticed that she didn't have anything in the cart for a Thanksgiving meal.

"Where's your turkey?" he asked.

"I'm not cooking a turkey for just one person," she answered, unloading the rest of her things.

How sad, Bob thought. This kind elderly lady is going to be alone for Thanksgiving. That shouldn't happen.

 Bob felt uneasy and couldn't let the thought of her being at home alone go. He called his mother. "There's going to be one less head at the house this year, Mom," he told her. "I'm doing a Thanksgiving at my store."

Bob immediately contacted Rose and some other older customers he thought might also be spending the holiday alone and invited them to come to Thanksgiving dinner in the back of his store.

The then-29-year-old single grocer cooked up a feast for his 12 guests, who couldn't thank him enough. He had to admit, it was one of the best Thanksgiving he'd ever had—and it began an annual tradition, and he's been doing it ever since... 

52 Years Later

Little girl pushing a tray of pumpkin pie

For the next few years, Bob hosted Thanksgiving dinner in the back of his store, welcoming anyone in his community who wanted to come. Many were elderly folks with no family or living too far away. Others were people who had fallen on hard times. 

Bob and his thanksgiving dinner

Every year, the table grew more crowded, and today, 52 years after that first dinner, and thanks to generous donations and volunteers from the community, Bob’s Thanksgiving feast, which includes music and a disc jockey, draws up to 3,000 people!  “I’m glad you’re here, and I’m hoping you enjoy the meal,” Bob told his diners. “I want to wish you a very happy holiday. Thanks for coming.”“To be alone on Thanksgiving is a hard thing,” he says. “I never was growing up, and I just thought these people are going to be alone, and I don’t want that. I said years ago, ‘One of these days, I’m going to be stepping down.’ But now, I tell people, ‘I’m not stepping down until I’m in the ground!’”

Bobs Thanksgiving