Thursday, November 26, 2009

Community service

More wonderful volunteerism this Thanksgiving.

Hundreds volunteer for community Thanksgiving


Forty sets of gloved hands were fast at work Wednesday, tearing the meat from the bones of smoked turkeys, sorting the meat by color and tossing the stripped bones into boxes.

It was both joyful and meticulous work. The volunteers laughed and chatted, but never lost focus on the task at hand.

“Let’s see how much more meat we can salvage off of this,” said volunteer Monique Weston.

About 40 volunteers were de-boning more than 300 smoked turkeys at McKenna Events Center Wednesday in preparation for today’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner. The turkeys were donated by Granzin’s Meat Market and prepared by the New Braunfels Smokehouse.

In other rooms, hundreds of other volunteers were decorating, and preparing side dishes — green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and gallons and gallons of gravy.

“I don’t have kids in town anymore. I’m just a senior that came to give back to people in need,” said Mimi Beall of New Braunfels, who was de-boning turkeys Wednesday.

Some friends and neighbors were reunited in their volunteer efforts.

“We’re old friends. We used to be in a garden club together, so we’re on our fourth turkey today and we’re visiting,” said Weston, who partnered up with Sandy Schlameus to de-bone turkeys.

The ninth annual New Braunfels Community Thanksgiving Dinner will be held today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the McKenna Events Center on 801 W. San Antonio St.

While the focus of the meal is for the needy, everyone is invited to come and join “a time of fellowship and Thanksgiving celebration.”

For the past eight years, the local nonprofit TIPHER (The Institute for Public Health and Education Research) coordinated the effort that has grown substantially in its volunteer base and participants, but this year the project changed hands, and now the Central Texas Advocates for Seniors (CTAFS) orchestrates the massive Thanksgiving dinner.

For those participants served by the dinner that are immobile or just cannot leave their residence, more than 380 boxed dinners were being prepared Wednesday for delivery today.

Roughly 3,000 people will be served by the community dinner’s efforts this Thanksgiving.

In August 2008, CTAFS became a nonprofit, right at the time TIPHER was looking for a new group to run the community dinner. The nonprofit status allowed CTAFS to take on a project such as the community dinner, and everyone on their board of directors agreed to take on the responsibility of keeping the dinner as a mainstay in New Braunfels year after year.

“I’ve been the vice chair for the last two years,” said Domingo Medina of CTAFS.

“I did try to get involved last year, but because my wife just had a baby then, we became participants in the dinner,” he said.

Medina, like other volunteers on Wednesday, said orchestrating the dinner provides a way for them to give back to the community.

“Most of the people we serve are in the city limits. Many volunteers have been doing this for as long as the dinner has been going on,” he said.

“People volunteer for all kinds of reasons. People say things like ‘my father passed away and so my mother doesn’t want to do dinner anymore, so we came to give back.’”

New Braunfels Community Thanksgiving Dinner When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today Where: McKenna Events Center on 801 W. San Antonio St. Cost: Free