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Volunteers feed more than 2,000 people
Volunteers feed more than 2,000 people

Retired police chief Nick Obligacion had a lot of  bones to pick with council members Jose Nuño and Gary Singh, as well as former Mayor Steve DeBrum and a host of others on Thursday morning.

They made up a crew that picked apart 198 cooked turkeys  at Mt. Mike’s Pizza to prepare for the 10th annual Manteca Rotary-Sunrise Kiwanis Manteca Community Thanksgiving dinner served to more than 2,000 people.

And while his fellow Rotarians and other volunteers were picking apart turkeys, Al Nunes was busy making gravy as others were whipping up potatoes, making stuffing,  cooking corn, and cutting pumpkin pies for the meal shared with people at various locations throughout Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon.

The masterminds behind the annual event was another retired police chief  — Charlie Halford — along with Jeff and Tevani Liotard.

The Liotards have been opening their restaurant for the past 10 years to prepare and serve the meal.

Both Halford and Jeff Liotard are Rotarians while Tevani Liotard is advisor for the Manteca Interact.

The service club that consists of students from various Manteca Unified high schools had members on hand to help. They were joined by other teens as well adults who wanted to make sure others shared in the celebration of our bounty on the national day of thanks.

In a way, the Thanksgiving dinner is the quintessential event that reflects the community fabric of Manteca that has been woven even stronger as the city surpasses the 85,000 population mark.

The small town values are beating as strong as ever despite Manteca being one of the fastest growing cities in California for 11  straight years.

The 198 turkeys were made possible by the successful Turkeys R Us drive that met the need in the three local communities for Thanksgiving and is now working on hams and turkeys for Christmas. This marked the 22nd year that all food closet requests in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop to help struggling families with Thanksgiving dinner has been met.

Second Harvest Food Bank personnel in talking with their colleagues across the country have indicated that what Manteca has done — and continues to do — is extremely rare as most communities come up significantly short in  requests for turkeys during the holidays.

Despite this being one of the busiest weeks of the year and a time for family, the effort to prepare and serve  — plus deliver meals to shut-ins and the homeless on the streets — never lacks volunteers. The preparation starts with the brining of  turkeys on Monday, continues on Tuesday with the slicing of hundreds of pumpkin pies, and goes into full gear late Wednesday night when a crew organized by the Sunrise Kiwanis cook the 198 turkeys.

The Manteca Police Officers Association and Manteca Unified School District joined forces with the  two service clubs for the event.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email