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Less fortunate give thanks to volunteers
Communities come together to feed the needy & hungry
Elizabeth Addi of Modestos VFW Hall prepares to bag to-go dinners. Addi received support from Manteca Rotarian Jeff Liotard when she was hosting a cancer fundraiser and said she felt the need to return the favor. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

John Hernandez stood in the dining room of Mountain Mike’s Pizza, asked for attention, and then offered his profound thanks.

Because if it weren’t for the people who were so giving with their time, Hernandez wouldn’t have been enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner at all on Thursday, let alone getting to enjoy a hot one while taking one home with him that he’ll be able to enjoy later.

“I think that it’s great because it brings the whole community together,” he said. “We’re all people and the fact that there is a group that is willing to do this is wonderful.

“Manteca is a small community, and nobody everybody is able to cook their Thanksgiving dinner so I think that this is something that’s really needed.”

And some of the volunteers were just happy that they got the chance to lend a hand to the less fortunate.

Melissa Fee of the Sierra High Interact Club spent her Thanksgiving morning making sure that the individual slices of pumpkin pie were all ready to go when a meal ended up going out the front door – some served up with whipped cream, and some without.

The community dinner gave Fee another chance to volunteer her time and reminded her of the time that she spent with her Grandfather at their church.

“It’s about helping people, and I’m just glad that I have the chance to be down here doing this,” she said. “Helping is its own reward. There’s definitely a good feeling involved with it.”

Representatives from the Manteca Police Officers Association joined a handful of other volunteers Thursday morning to debone the 125 turkeys that were purchased by the Manteca Police Chief’s Association for the event. The turkeys were cooked the night before, and the trimmings – the stuffing and the gravy and the other fixins’ – were prepared fresh Thursday morning.

The event even drew help from outside of town.

Elizabeth Addi of the Modesto VFW Hall promised Manteca Noon Rotarian Jeff Liotard that she’d return the favor after he helped out at a charity fundraiser that her organization held earlier in the year.

“It’s amazing how well organized it is,” Addi said. “I think it’s a great thing for the residents of Manteca.”