It has always been about community for David and Pam Glass, owners of Black Bear Crossings on Como Lake, especially around the holidays.
Growing up surrounded by extended family, David’s home was filled with loved ones on holidays. His parents took care of others, he recalls, their home often overflowing with friends and family, especially on Thanksgiving.
“Growing up with Native American values, we were taught to give,” he said. When his mother died in 2006, the Glasses decided to honor those values by providing a free Thanksgiving meal to anyone in need of a helping hand or a friendly face.
“We had never opened (Black Bear Crossings) on Thanksgiving,” he said. “We believe it is a time to be with loved ones. After my mother died, we decided that if we were going to open on Thanksgiving, we were going to do it our way, by giving. Thanksgiving became a way of living the values instilled by my parents to give back.”
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On that first Thanksgiving, David and Pam weren’t sure what to expect, but they found folks were looking for companionship, not just food.
“It wasn’t all about financial necessity,” David said. “We had college students, single people living far from family, lonely elderly. It was about providing community, not just food.”
Although Black Bear Crossings is slated to close its doors on Nov. 30, the couple will offer a free Thanksgiving meal one last time on Thursday, Nov. 27. This will be the ninth year that the Glasses, along with a slew of eager volunteers, have offered a traditional Thanksgiving meal to anyone who would like to join them. There will be plenty of turkey, wild-rice apple dressing, veggies and, of course, pie.
Even folks out for a walk around the lake, possibly working off their own holiday feast, will be welcome for coffee and pie.
“We’ve never had to turn anyone away,” David said. Except volunteers.
Every year Black Bear gets more volunteers for Thanksgiving than they can use. “So many people want to help,” David said.
One volunteer group is particularly close to Pam’s heart. Every year she visits a juvenile detention center in Jordan, Minn., with one of David’s cousins. They volunteer with the youth the day before Thanksgiving, and the next day, a group of kids makes the journey to St. Paul and pays it forward.
“They help out in any way they can. They visit with the elderly people, they clean up, they work hard. We send them home with pies,” David said.
This year the dinner will be extended by an hour, and will be served from noon to 3 p.m. Accordion player Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton will donate his time to entertain the crowd, as he has in the past.
The Glasses are looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.
“We’ve really enjoyed these dinners,” David said. “It’s been so gratifying to work hand-in-hand with the community.”
Free Thanksgiving meal
Thursday, Nov. 27 noon-3 p.m.
Black Bear Crossings Como Lakeside Pavilion
1360 N. Lexington Parkway, 651-488-4920