Cold outside, warm inside

By Sarah Meyer: PNT Staff Writer

The weather was cool and wet Thursday, but the fellowship and food was warm at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Volunteers expected to serve about 500 people, including the 180 meals that were delivered to people who are homebound or the dozens of take-out dinners picked up and delivered by individuals.

Volunteers even delivered 20 meals to Clovis, said Elvia Garcia, one of the organizers of the annual event. “We can’t tell them no if they call and ask for a meal,” she said.

Garcia said hundreds of volunteers make the event a success by cooking, serving and cleaning up. Local businesses, organizations, churches and individuals contribute to the dinner.

Garcia said about 80 turkeys were donated this year. Some people even brought turkeys that were already cooked, she said.

“It is a blessing,” Garcia said.

The event even included live music, played on the piano for an hour each by Franklin Smith and James A. Gibson.

Diners said they enjoyed the meal.

“It’s pretty nice,” said George E. Tillman. “It’s probably the best event they have.”

“They put in a lot of work and the fact that it’s free, it’s wonderful,” said Rose Johns. “I’m blessed to be here.”

“It’s a very nice thing they do for us,” said Ramona Gomez. She said she has no family here. “It’s nice that I can come and eat turkey,” she said.

Firefighters and other community members were among those attending the dinner.

“This is a really nice thing they’re doing,” said Battalion Chief Mickey Hargrove. “It’s absolutely wonderful.”

“Right now, as tough as times are, this is good,” said Firefighter Darren Elrod.

Volunteers enjoy putting on the dinner.

Tammy Salas said her family has been helpiong with the dinner since it started. This was the sixth annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Prior to that, churches, including St. Helen Catholic Community, had Thanksgiving dinners for the community.

“We make it a special time,” said Salas. “We really enjoy helping. It’s really rewarding. It’s nice to sit and visit with everybody.”

She said her family helps with the community dinner, then has another family dinner in the evening.

Richard and Christy Masterson of Clovis were helping with the dinner for the first time.

They delivered meals with their children. Christy said she had participated in a similar event in San Antonio, Texas, as a child with her mother. The Mastersons thought it would be a good opportunity to show their children the experience of serving others.

“You don’t get this opportunity very often, to see people from all walks of life and different churches come together for a greater cause,” said Richard Masterson.