VACAVILLE — Looking at people filling the main room in the Vacaville Veterans Hall, you could not be sure who was enjoying the Vacaville veterans’ community Christmas meal more: The people who were eating the food and receiving presents or the people who were serving them.
Student Adam Grabowski called spending the day slinging servings of ham onto community members’ plates, “fun.”
He and his family have volunteered at the community meal for six years “because we love Vacaville and we just want to give something back.”
Lenore Moriarity and her friends were among the recipients who ate turkey with all the fixings. Their group included her mother, Verna Clancy, who served as an Army nurse during World War II and was one of the first American medical personnel to go into Hiroshima after the atomic bombing and Japanese surrender.
“This is really wonderful. I am single and get to eat a holiday meal with my friends. This makes you feel like it is Christmas,” Moriarity said.
This is the Vacaville veterans’ second holiday community meal this year, following the one the group organized on Thanksgiving, according to veteran Lewis Derfus, one of the meal’s organizers.
The veterans, backed by great community support, spent the past week cooking 45 turkeys and 35 hams with all the fixings. They also collected enough Christmas gifts from Vacavlle’s firefighters to fill a table that extended the length of the assembly hall.
“The support from the community has been outstanding,” Derfus said. “We do this because it is important to the community and it gives us a warm feeling.”
It was the second community Christmas event in which Keetra Welling of Fairfield-Suisun Community Action Council took part.
On Friday, she and the Fairfield-Suisun CAC distributed 165 bags of groceries, each one accompanied by a turkey, chicken or ham, to low-income families and seniors in the community.
Welling drove to the Vacaville Veterans Hall to spend her Monday helping fill, package and organize for home delivery more than 300 Christmas meals, which went to residents in the area who could not make it to the communuty meal at the hall.
Dave Donovan was one of those who spend his morning slinging sweet potatoes into the plastic trays that would be delivered to community members.
“I just like to help during the holidays,” Donovan said, nodding agreement with another volunteer’s comment that she was there “because the season is all about giving, not receiving, giving.”
The Vacaville veterans can still use some support and are accepting cash donations to offset unexpected costs of the breakdown of one of the hall’s stoves and a refrigerator. Checks can be sent to the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 84, Vacaville Veterans Memorial Hall, 549 Merchant St., Vacaville, Calif., 95688.
Derfus was thankful for all the volunteers who showed up to prepare, serve and deliver the meals. but voiced concern about the future, saying that a lot of the involved veterans are getting older and they need more younger veterans to help out.
“We don’t want this thing to drop. I want this to continue. It is too important,” Derfus said of the holiday community meal.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.