Thanksgiving Meals

From left, Andrew, 11, Jessica and Devin, 13, Barrickman of Eau Claire are making free Thanksgiving meals for six area families. View more photos at

EAU CLAIRE — In this strangest of years, Jessica Barrickman figured a few people could use a taste of normalcy on Thanksgiving.

Or better yet, a Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings.

So Barrickman posted an offer on a couple of community Facebook pages: She and her two sons, Devin and Andrew, would cook and deliver full Thanksgiving dinners — at no cost — to the first few families or individuals who expressed interest.

“This Thanksgiving, like for many people, dinner will be different for me,” Barrickman wrote. “I love to cook. Sharing a meal is what makes Thanksgiving magical. ... Is there anyone out there that would enjoy a full turkey dinner (a couple days late)?”

With Wisconsin in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 and the economic fallout from the pandemic, she speculated that some folks may not be able to afford to make a full Thanksgiving dinner, some may be quarantined away from the relatives who usually do the cooking and others may not want to prepare a big meal for an unusually small gathering this year.

“The reason doesn’t matter,” Barrickman wrote. “This is about sharing a meal.”

To reassure anyone uneasy about the possibility of contracting the virus, she even pledged that she and the boys would wear gloves and masks while cooking and delivering the meals to residents’ front doors.

As it turns out, the offer was as popular as a fresh platter of turkey right out of the oven.

She quickly accepted requests from six families — a total of 17 people — from across Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. She bought a 25-pound turkey for the occasion.

“I was pleasantly surprised that I got quite a few responses very quickly. There was a lot of gratitude,” Barrickman said. “I think everyone just needs a little bit of joy this year.”

Devin, 13, was happy to play a role in the charitable project.

“I thought it sounded like a fun idea to cook with my mom and brother for other people who might not have someone else to enjoy the food with,” he said.

The traditional menu will include turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, green bean casserole and scalloped corn, reported Andrew, 11.

For dessert, each family will get a whole pie, courtesy of a local Edward Jones financial services office, which stepped up when contacted by Barrickman.

The only catch: Since the boys are celebrating Thanksgiving with their father today, Barrickman and her sons plan to prepare and deliver the dinners on Saturday.

Once they’ve served everyone else, they plan to sit down together to enjoy the fruits of their labor.