FAIRFIELD — The first Mission Solano Thanksgiving Day meal giveaway in 1998 consisted of a couple of staff members, a small group of volunteers and a van filled with 100 turkeys.
That’s a far cry from Tuesday, as 470 turkeys and goods for a traditional meal were handed out to people who lined up around the block.
The lines started early at the Community Outreach Center on Travis Boulevard, which took over the parking lot of nearby Fairfield-Suisun Adult School to accommodate the crowds. Vehicles were corralled in three groups, which spilled out to Fairfield Avenue and around to Travis Boulevard. A lengthy line of those on foot also formed.
Greeting them was a large group of volunteers who handled the paperwork of those who had previously registered for the meal. Several volunteers could be seen carrying a box of food to a vehicle for those who couldn’t lift it.
Around 100 turkeys were dropped off Tuesday alone by the public to make sure all those who arrived were served, said Rod Malloy, chief operations officer for Mission Solano.
“Everyone got turkeys. It’s incredible,” Malloy said after the event. “That’s the miracle of this thing. We always have enough to give out. It’s pretty incredible to think about.”
So many were given away that Mission Solano now needs 10 to 12 turkeys to cook for its annual Thanksgiving dinner Thursday. Malloy said the generosity seems to always come through in the end and hopes this year will be no different.
One of those who showed up Tuesday was a familiar face to the staff. Kimberly McPike spent a couple of weeks at the shelter and five months at the Bridge to Life Center with her two sons. She moved into an apartment three months ago, where she will be cooking for 12 family members.
“It’s amazing. I get to cook,” McPike said. “I get to have time with my family I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with. I’m so beyond excited.”
Ron Marlette, executive director of Mission Solano, stood and watched the line of people in cars waiting to pick up boxed meals, and thought back to his first go-round. The group had more people show up at True Love Baptist Church than there were meals to give out.
“Back then we went into homeless camps, churches and neighborhoods to let them know. Now, it’s just an annual event,” Marlette said. “We were thrilled to death just to do that. We’ve exploded and become such a valuable piece of the safety net for the community.”
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.