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Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Grateful Column: The Weigand Effect

Tony Tone
Tony Tone has worked as a radio personality in Muscatine and the Quad Cities since 2006. He currently serves as Muscatine Community School District Communication and Community Outreach Director and writes Talk of the Town with Tony Tone for the Discover Muscatine newspaper.

Muscatine Living

20 years ago, Muscatine residents Jim and Carol Weigand wanted to do something nice for a family that had just experienced a tragedy. It was around Thanksgiving, and they reached out to Hy-Vee to order an entire meal for the family.

By the following year, Jim, with the support of his friend and local business owner, Leo Steinke, the former owner of the McDonald’s franchise, continued that giving. Jim would have coffee several times a week at Leo’s restaurant, and that led to receiving a check for $350 to, “buy as many Thanksgiving meals as possible for those in need.” Jim and Carol were able to create a list of folks that could use a meal by contacting their church, Saints Mary and Mathias. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jim then reached the Muscatine Knights of Columbus to see if they would be interested in getting involved. What started with one dinner has grown to feed over 1,000 people here in Muscatine. I’m grateful that people like Jim and Carol Weigand made a choice 20 years ago to give back.

COVID has unfortunately impacted the program, and like last year, turkeys will be donated to local organizations like MCSA, the Jesus Mission, Senior Resources, the MCSA Domestic Violence Shelter, and the Salvation Army of Muscatine. Jim hopes that things are closer to “normal” by Thanksgiving 2022.

So, what’s my connection to Jim and Carol? Their granddaughter, Rhiannon, and my wife, Kasey, have been friends for a long time. A few weeks back, my wife was a bridesmaid at Rhiannon’s wedding! I cannot tell you how happy I was to see Jim and Carol in person for the first time in quite a while.

Jim would like you to know how grateful he is for the Knights of Columbus and Eric and Emily Blair, who have taken the reigns of this annual Thanksgiving effort. The Blair’s are great people, and along with their volunteers and donors, continue to grow the program.

Jim and Carol shared their plans for Thanksgiving: “Carol and I will probably be right here in our little house as we have some family members also facing some pretty tough health challenges. We’re praying, praying, and praying for our son-in-law, who is battling cancer. Right now, he has done a complete turnaround, and his cancer is going away. We’re hoping that continues so that he can make a complete recovery. They raise black Angus cattle and provided the meat for a Knights of Columbus fundraiser back in October. Funds from that event helped us provide Thanksgiving meals to the places I had previously mentioned.”

On our last phone call, I asked Jim what he’s the most grateful for when he thinks about this program: “I had two goals set for myself and my wife; The first being that we didn’t want to turn the program over to anyone unless we had some funding in the bank to continue. We were able to do that thanks to Eric and Emily Blair and all our dedicated Knights of Columbus volunteers, and to the community who continues to support this effort. The second goal was to make sure that the Knights of Columbus #1305 became well known in Muscatine. I know we have accomplished that. The Knights have and continue to grow locally. I’m proud that our local Knights was awarded the state award based on the efforts of feeding those at Thanksgiving.”

Thank you, Jim and Carol, for being my friends and continuing to give back to our community. Muscatine is better with you in it.

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