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Holiday Tradition Diners Enjoy Thanksgiving Feast
Checking the temperature and doing a little taste test besides of the pan of potatoes is Dan Franklin, left, while Martin Rocha holds the pan and Terri Franklin, right, looks on during preparations for the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner hosted at the Escalon Community Center on Nov. 28. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

Turkeys and stuffing were cooked off site, the potatoes, gravy and green beans were simmering in the Escalon Community Center, volunteers were busy carefully packing up containers of salad, bread and plates of food for delivery. It was a busy Thursday for dozens of local residents who came in to help serve their friends and neighbors.

The annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner came together once again, offered to everyone in the area that wanted to come and share a holiday meal, while home delivery also was featured for those who were ill, elderly or shut in and couldn’t get to the festivities.

Coordinating the work crews inside the Community Center was Kim Rigg, while longtime organizer Bev Arnold – recuperating from surgery – handled much of the pre-planning from home, armed with a phone and a network of past volunteers that answered the call.

Among the youngest volunteers, Adrienne Alice Beneux, 6, was there with her grandmother to offer help wherever needed.

“I think I’m going to have a good feeling after I work hard,” the youngster said, smiling brightly as she helped get small cups of cranberry sauce ready for the ‘to go’ boxes.

A total of 143 orders for home delivered meals was called in, said DeeAnna Jackson, who has coordinated that side of the community dinner for years. When she first started keeping track, in 2006, 92 meals were home delivered.

“We’ve had ups and downs,” she said. “This (143) compares to 120 home delivered last year.”

Like they did in 2012, members of the Escalon varsity football team came – in their numbered jerseys – to handle the home delivery of meals. Several Cougars were on hand to help and Jackson said the diners that can’t get to the community center love having the football players provide the delivery service.

“They also helped set up Wednesday,” Jackson said of the players.

Rigg said they were a lifesaver on Wednesday, getting the tables and chairs set up for a room full of diners anticipated on Thursday. Local elementary students colored and decorated special Thanksgiving placemats that were used at each table and the full menu ranged from salad and rolls to start, followed by the traditional Thanksgiving plates of turkey, potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, with beverages and pie for dessert.

Among those working on Thursday were longtime volunteers and husband and wife teams Robert and Rosita Richway, Dan and Terri Franklin, who all said they enjoy the chance to volunteer for a good cause.

“We put it together,” Rigg said of the dinner being staged. “We always have a ton of help from the community.”

Diners are welcome to come and eat for free, though many do make a donation and the funds donated help the local Escalon Ministerial Association, which operates the local food cupboard.