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Tooele residents give back with the ‘Thanksgiving Project’

Nov 24, 2022, 5:10 PM | Updated: 5:36 pm

TOOELE, Utah — Dozens of families and friends in Tooele have made serving their neighbors part of their Thanksgiving tradition.

It’s called the Thanksgiving Project, which has grown from a straightforward offering into a countywide feast.

“We’re going to send out about 250 meals to people in need,” said Chad Fullmer, the founder of the Thanksgiving Project.

He owns the local Denny’s restaurant and cooked up the Thanksgiving Project 18 years ago, feeding about 50 people at his restaurant.

“We wanted to give back to some people in need,” Fullmer said. “We opened our doors and invited people in that needed a meal.”

Over the years, the Thanksgiving Project outgrew the restaurant. More families and friends got involved, and the need in the community has grown, too.

They now prepare the food at the Tooele High School, and a team of volunteers delivers the meals.

“People get to come and experience what Thanksgiving is all about, and it gives them a different perspective call,” Fullmer said.

Volunteers preparing food for delivery for the Thanksgiving Project in Tooele (KSL-TV)

They now partner with the school district and the Tooele County Resource center. Fullmer said he’s thankful for this opportunity to share and serve.

“This gives us a time to pause and come together and be grateful for each other,” he said.

Seventeen-year-old Lauren Johnson has volunteered with her family since she was 12.

“Every Thanksgiving, we’ve been doing this,” Johnson said. “I just love the thought that it’s going to someone who needs it or someone that appreciates it. It feels good to help other people.”

It’s adding meaning to her Thanksgiving.

“It’s just something that I really look forward to,” Lauren said.

Randy and Samantha Fisher got involved six years ago. They delivered meals this year.

“It’s nice to be able to give back, especially now when people need it most, and just having that contact, wishing them a happy Thanksgiving,” Randy said.

They’re both retired military members and enjoyed this kind of service when they were in uniform.

“It’s the fact of being able to give back to our community that supports anybody and everybody here,” Samantha said. “It’s a wonderful community.”

All of that generosity is provided by donations from Denny’s customers and other community donors in Tooele.

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Tooele residents give back with the ‘Thanksgiving Project’