There were plenty of reasons to give thanks at last weekend's Butterball at the Graves 601 Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.

The biennial pre-Thanksgiving bash benefits Open Arms of Minnesota, which prepares and delivers food weekly to 800 clients with chronic illnesses. Thanksgiving is its biggest day of the year, with clients receiving turkeys or prepared meals for up to four people.

Recently, Open Arms has been more focused on the quality of the food it provides.

"It started with us and our volunteers who are eating organic," said executive director Kevin Winge. "Those of us who can eat healthier foods do that, and we really care about healthy foods for our clients."

Inspired to provide free-range turkeys on Thanksgiving five years ago, the organization now holds the same standard for all of the meat it uses.

In addition, it opened Open Farms, a 2-acre vegetable garden at Prairie Oaks Institute in Belle Plaine, where 28,000 pounds of organic produce was harvested this year.

Many of the Butterball attendees were hoping to make a connection -- or at least snap a Facebook photo -- with Josh Hartnett, the honorary chairman. The Minnesota-raised movie star was visiting from New York and attended the event, which included a Semisonic concert.

The Butterball is "very much in keeping with the theme of Thanksgiving -- giving food to people who need it," Hartnett said.

He added that he's thankful for "friends and family -- and I get to be in Minneapolis for a few weeks."

His many hometown fans are probably also grateful for that.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177