CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many people are giving thanks this year for the return to normalcy as we gather for the Thanksgiving holiday.
At Saint Benedict Parish in Chicago's North Center neighborhood, they are preparing to welcome back area residents in need for a traditional meal.
Church member Kevin Buchar said he has plenty of reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving.
"It's been a tough year and a half for everybody, so it's time to be thankful for what we do have," he said.
Buchar is one of dozens of parishioners at St. Benedict's Parish who are volunteering for the church's community dinner on Thanksgiving Day. The gathering was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
Church member Carolyn Bull has been the dinner's coordinator for the last 23 years.
"It's been a hard year," she said. "It's been a hard time where people are struggling and they've been spread out, and it's nice to bring people back together.
Food donations and gifts continued stream in Wednesday afternoon as preps got underway for the church's traditional Thanksgiving dinner featuring turkey and all the fixings.
St. Benedict's Father Stephen Kanonik looks forward to the renewed fellowship and says this Thanksgiving may be more special to a lot of people because after more than a year and a half of shutdowns and struggles, some of us have been reminded of just how blessed we are.
"And this feast day is an opportunity to step back and remember those blessings, whatever blessings we have, just to realize how lucky we are," he said.
The church says Thanksgiving dinner service is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and all are welcome.