Thanksgiving is around the corner, and at Butte Central, there’s plenty of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans to go around for everyone at the LaVerne Combo annual dinner Tuesday.
On Monday afternoon, volunteer Peggy Boyle had her hands full working on five turkeys in Central High School’s roomy kitchen. When all’s said and done, she will have roasted 11 turkeys of the more than 30 that will be served at the dinner, which is centered on serving elderly and disadvantaged in the community.
Boyle has been helping with the dinner in some form for two decades. She started helping roast turkeys before her kids were in high school and has continued long past their graduation, as with many of the people who are involved in the dinner.
“It’s been a nonstop 20 years,” she said as she pulled a turkey out of an oven.
She the dedication of volunteers who’ve stuck around despite the absence of having kids in Central schools shows more than just dedication to Central.
“It’s more of a testament to Laverne,” she said.
Combo, a fixture at Butte Central for much of her life, whether she was a student, secretary or cheerleading coach, helped get the dinner underway years ago. The Walkerville native was well-known in the community, and especially within Central schools. She got to know all the students, and was considered the students’ “second mother,” according to a Montana Standard story.
She died in 2002 from cancer at the age of 73. The school’s Thanksgiving dinner was named in her honor.
Adults aren’t the only ones who get cooking for the event, though. Monday afternoon, Butte Central senior MacKenzie Callahan helped check on the turkeys in the oven. The aroma of the roasting turkeys permeated throughout the school’s halls.
Callahan said the aroma makes the stretch until lunch seem much longer.
“It’s kind of hard coming in in the morning,” she said with a laugh.
Callahan, like most students, will help with the dinner, some delivering meals to shut-ins. Most all students volunteer to either serve or deliver the dinners. She said she’s always enjoyed the dinner preparations, especially the pie-cutting, where she and other helpers gather in the science room and hold contests to see who can cut the quickest and straightest.
“It’s actually a lot of fun,” she said.
And everyone gets at least one chance to cut a pie. Butte Care and Rehabilitation donates 120 pies for the dinner, Boyle said.
Down the hall from the kitchen, the gym is filled with long tables, topped with Thanksgiving decorations.
All told, hundreds of Butte residents will enjoy the meal. And, as it was when Combo was at the helm, the meals will be served with love.
— Reporter Piper Haugan: 496-5572, piper.haugan@
The Butte Central Catholic High School student body, administration, faculty and staff will sponsor the annual LaVerne Combo Thanksgiving Dinner for senior citizens and homebound at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Butte Central High School gymnasium.
Call the high school office at 782-6761 for reservations to attend. It’s too late to make reservations for home delivery.