LACEY – About 40 families in need enjoyed a free Thanksgiving dinner – along with all the free laser tag, indoor playground activity and arcade games they could handle – Thursday at Charlie’s Safari on Martin Way.
Janel and Kurt Kageler, owners of the indoor play area for children, said this was the fourth year they’ve offered the free dinner and fun day for families with children enrolled in North Thurston Public Schools.
“We’re here to serve the community and try and make a difference,” Kurt Kageler said. “We never know when we may be on the other side of the table.”
All three of the Kageler’s school-age children, including their youngest son, Austin, 10, volunteered to help with the event, along with friends and other family members.
The volunteers helped families that didn’t have transportation with a lift to and from the event.
More than 200 people – most of them kids – enjoyed the free turkey dinner with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls. The families were invited by the school district.
Many of the adults have just as much fun as the kids, playing laser tag or running around with their children in the inflated play areas, Janel Kageler said.
Konrad McFarland sat eating with his five children – four girls and one boy – as the football game played on an overhead TV screen. He said his kids were enjoying the indoor play areas, plus, “They get to tire themselves out.
“This whole thing is really nice,” he said.
At another table, Anna Lewellen; her husband, Derek; and their three children sat down to dinner. The Lewellens said they’d recently moved to Lacey from Germany, where Derek was in the Army.
“Our kids are having a blast,” Derek Lewellen said. “The laser tag is what they like the best.”
Mom Misti Kirk, said her four children, ages 7 to 14, also were enjoying the day.
“It’s their first time doing anything like this,” she said. “It’s delicious food, by the way. It’s wonderful that they do this.”
Asked whether all of the work involved was worth it, Kurt Kageler said just seeing the smiles on all the faces of the children gave him all the satisfaction in the world.
“We feel fortunate to be able to do this,” he said. “We hope to be able to do it for many years to come.”
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445