Black Bear Crossings provides more than just a free Thanksgiving meal

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The shopping list for Pam Glass’s Thanksgiving Day meal includes four 25-pound turkeys, 75 pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of cranberries and enough pumpkin to fill at least 20 pies.

She’s never quite sure how many people she’s feeding until they show up at her door.

This is the fourth year that Pam and her husband, David Glass, have offered a free Thanksgiving dinner to anyone who comes to their restaurant, Black Bear Crossings on the Lake at Como Lakeside Pavilion in Como Regional Park. So far, they’ve not run out of food.

They served 40 to 50 people their first year, Glass said. Last year, 120 people came to the restaurant for a traditional meal. She has between 10 and 15 volunteers each year and often has to turn down people who would like to help.

Both Pam and David are volunteers at heart, she said. They spent a number of holidays volunteering when they were dating. When Pam’s mother-in-law died in 2006, “that just left a really big void. It was so sad to think about going through a holiday without her,” Pam said. So she suggested hosting a free meal in honor of David’s mom.

That first year, the couple found that most of the people who came were spending Thanksgiving alone.

“At first I thought it would be people who were having a hardship financially and aren’t able to have a nice dinner, but what I found is that those people don’t have the transportation to get to us,” Pam said. Those who do come are often older with no family nearby, though she says she does get younger people who don’t have the money to go home for the holiday.

One of their regular customers, a woman in her 80s who has a car, shuttles a number of older women who have no family in town to the restaurant.