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Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Served Up With Smiles
Plenty of residents came to the Escalon Community Center on Thursday to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal, with their orders taken and the food served to them. Marg Jackson/The Times

Volunteers of all ages turned out to help serve up a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner in Escalon.

Hosted at the Escalon Community Center, the meal was offered free on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28. Those that wanted to and were able could stop by the center anytime between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to enjoy the meal and some fellowship with friends and neighbors. Other meals were home delivered to those who couldn’t get out and some ‘take out’ orders were also picked up.

From 14-year-old Giovonni Nepote washing dishes and helping box up the ‘to go’ orders to longtime volunteers Bob and Rosita Richway making sure there was plenty of salad to go around, the community was there in force.

Taking on the leadership role this year was Molly Craig, who offered thanks to the Institute of Technology in Modesto, with culinary class students doing the bulk of the cooking on Wednesday and the law enforcement class coming in to help set tables.

Officials said there were 217 meals that were either picked up or delivered – the majority of them delivered by volunteers to homes around town – with 60 different locations getting deliveries. Many went to local senior communities, Heritage House and Paddack.

Many other residents came in to sit down for the meal, with volunteers taking their dinner order and then delivering the hot, fresh food.

Esther Payne manned her station, serving pie and adding whipped cream for those that wanted it on top of the traditional pumpkin pie.

“I enjoy it, the company, the camaraderie of everyone getting along,” Payne said.

Anabelle Shafter was taking orders, while her mom Chassie also took orders and delivered food plates.

For her part, Craig said she is a relatively new member at Escalon Presbyterian Church and, since the Escalon Ministerial Association hosts the Thanksgiving Dinner, she wanted to jump in.

“I have been involved in community service,” she said, especially in her youth, and wanted to give back. Some of her children also helped at the event.

“We were looking for a way to be a bigger part of the community,” Craig said. “It’s going well and this is such a great group of people.”

William Good of Escalon stopped by to help in the kitchen, with his wife having to work on Thanksgiving.

“My best friend is a chef,” he noted, adding he just wanted to come and help out.

Elsewhere, seven-year-old Ellie Mendoza was making sure diners had enough rolls, making the rounds of the tables.

“I’ve volunteered a few times,” added Pastor Troy Onsager of Escalon Presbyterian Church. “It’s an opportunity to have the community connect with each other and know they’re cared for.”

Coordinating the deliveries and take out was DeeAnna Jackson, while the kitchen crew kept the orders for both delivery and eat in coming.

“It’s wonderful,” said diner John Hanson. “I can’t believe how good the food is and this is really beautiful.”

Craig also had nothing but good things to say about the experience.

“Everyone was amazing,” she said.

Helping out at the Nov. 28 dinner were Mia DeVecchio, left, and Kate Craig, providing tableside beverage service. Marg Jackson/The Times
First year coordinator Molly Craig, left, watches as volunteer William Good puts another pan in to the oven at the Escalon Community Center on Thursday. Marg Jackson/The Times