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Mountain Mikes saves the day for Kiwanis, Rotary service clubs
Jeff Liotard and Doni Macedo stir up a pan of mashed potatoes before theyre put out. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Brian Mills knows that when it comes to helping those in the community, the lines between groups willing to lend a hand can overlap.

As the chair of the Sunrise Kiwanis community Thanksgiving dinner, Mills was quick to accept the help of local Rotarians that offered not only their assistance but, in the case of Mountain Mike’s owner Jeff Liotard, use of their business.

In the end, it was all about the less fortunate in the community and how the local service groups can help.

“When we opened up the doors today there was a line outside, and everybody that came in shook my hand and said ‘thank you,’” Mills said. “These are people that are so appreciative to have a meal. That’s what this is all about.

“We’re very grateful that we’ve gotten the help of the Rotary – they’ve really helped us with the cooking and the serving, and Jeff was generous enough to let us use his restaurant. It’s all about everybody joining in to help, and I think that’s what you see here today.”

With the help of the Sierra High School Interact Club and volunteers from a variety of local service clubs, the group not only served those who walked through the doors but also filled an order for 200 individual dinners that were distributed to organizations in town.

Instead of pushing pizzas through his ovens, Liotard spent his Thursday morning manning the burners and whipping up potatoes and dressing – doing so with a smile on his face.

While he used to take vacations on the three days of the year that he gets off – Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas – he has grown to love playing a part in making the Thanksgiving holiday something that others can enjoy as well.

And his dedication can’t be questioned. He and Kiwanian Charlie Halford nearly pulled an all-nighter in order to makes sure that the birds were ready for Thursday morning. And with only an hour of sleep, he was still sharp and singing.

“We’ve turned a pizza kitchen into a two-burner Thanksgiving cookout,” Liotard said. “I love doing this – it’s my chance to give back and I enjoy doing it. I love the smell of turkey and the dressing and knowing that we’re doing something for other people in the community.

“I want us to be able to cook up as may turkeys as we can serve. It’s great for everybody, and it’s all about the people that we’re helping.”

Volunteer Carlos Barrantes got recruited to be a part of the preparation team by his brother-in-law, and spent his morning making sure the food is ready and helping fill the massive to-go order that was distributed by volunteers.

He was pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of such an event.

“I think it’s great to be able to have something like this to help the less fortunate, and I think that’s a group that’s grown with our current economic climate,” he said. “For me this day is all about spending time with our family and friends and giving thanks for what we have, and giving back a little bit puts that in perspective.”