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MOLINE -- "Mr. Thanksgiving" announced Thursday that he's preparing for his 45th annual holiday dinner, and seeking more than $10,000 to hold it.

Bob "Mr. Thanksgiving" Vogelbaugh, of Moline, said during a press conference at Arby's near SouthPark Mall, that the dinner will be served from 4 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 26, in the former "Deb Shop," at the mall, 4500 16th St., Moline.

He said Quad-Cities Arby's restaurants recently donated their old food trays, and now he just needs money to fill the trays with food.

Mr. Vogelbaugh said he has about $4,000, but it cost $16,000 to put on the dinner last year, and may cost even more this year, because of increased costs of turkey

He said donations can be sent to "Mr. Thanksgiving," 3704 26th St., Moline, IL 61265. 

More than 2,000 people attended last year's dinner, which has been held at SouthPark Mall for the past 33 years, he said.

"We're glad to give him the space," said Kathy Jurgens, senior property manager at SouthPark and NorthPark Malls. "We're happy to do it."

MetroLINK also has been happy to provide free bus transportation for diners, administration manager Jennifer Garrity said. 

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Anyone interested in a ride to the dinner should call MetroLINK at 309-788-3360 by noon, Tuesday, Nov. 24, and then call back the next day to check on assigned ride times, she said.

It takes about 300 to 400 volunteers to stage the dinner, including Moline Coolidge and Camelot students, Mr. Vogelbaugh said.

One of his most stalwart volunteers, Vicki Birdsell-Baker, has volunteered for 44 of the dinner's 45 years.

"The biggest difference is the size of it now," she said. "It started out much smaller. The one thing that remains the same is the purpose."

It's for people in the community who don't want to be alone on Thanksgiving, Mr. Vogelbaugh said.

He credited the volunteers for making it possible. "Everyone's buttons should be bursting in pride," he said. 

Last year, it took 2,700 pounds of turkey donated by two Hy-Vee Food Stores to feed everyone, Mr. Vogelbaugh said.

He invited people to donate pies to the mall office on Wednesday, Nov. 25, or to the former Deb Shop before dinner the next day.

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