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Volunteers serve Manteca Thanksgiving meal
Rotarian Jeff Liotard shares a laugh with Keri Tapia of the Second Harvest Food Bank before the two break a wishbone. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
It’s not easy doing the grunt work associated with a Thanksgiving dinner large enough to feed more than 300 people.

Just ask Manteca Rotarian Jeff Liotard and his crew of volunteers.

While most people were enjoying a full night of rest before Thanksgiving, Liotard and a handful of people were busy at the Manteca Senior Center putting in the behind-the-scenes work that made Thursday’s community dinner possible.

With the place settings already taken care of the night before, the second wave of volunteers – some who arrived before the sun came up – made sure that everything was taken care of before people started arriving at 10:45 a.m.

“This is really a group effort between all kinds of community groups that came together to make this possible,” said Keri Tapia of the Second Harvest Food Bank – noting that the Rotary clubs, the Kiwanis clubs, the Soroptimists, and the Lions all had a hand in making Thursday possible. “It really shows the sense of community that we have here in Manteca, and we’re glad to be able to do something to give those without family and without means the chance to enjoy a traditional thanksgiving dinner.”

And it wasn’t just adults that volunteered their time to execute all of the necessary tasks to make the meal possible.

Liotard had both of his daughters – Jaslyn and Mahlynn – were part of the kitchen crew that remained busy even after people started to arrive. Tapia’s son Jon waited patiently off to the side with a push-cart holding cleaning supplies – tasked with bussing the tables and cleaning up after each guest.

And those in the community that stopped by Thursday for a meal couldn’t have been more grateful.

“I think that an event like this is great,” said Manteca resident Gary Eckhart. “We weren’t going to have turkey today, and because of this we’re able to do that. It’s good to have groups like this.

“I definitely thinks that Manteca needs it – especially with so many people that don’t have a family to eat with or anywhere else to go.”