By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Thanksgiving Dinner Dishes Out Festive Community Spirit
Working on the ‘assembly line’ to fill both dinner plates and take-out orders were, from left, Janet Voortman; her granddaughter Kenley Koops; and Caterina Grossi.

Some families stopped in, dinners were delivered to those who couldn’t get out to eat and a few folks came to the Escalon Community Center to get a ‘take out’ meal for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Altogether, it meant a few hundred people enjoying a filling, delicious turkey day dinner.

Organizers Dianna Dunn – who oversees the kitchen staff and dining room activities – and DeeAnna Jackson – who coordinates the home deliveries/take-out meals – both agreed it was a successful year. The dinner was hosted at the Escalon Community Center on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22. The meal was offered for free, though many people chose to make a donation to the Escalon Ministerial Association, which sponsors the dinner each year.

Dunn said students from the culinary classes at Modesto Institute of Technology again did the cooking under the direction of instructors and did a fantastic job.

“Everyone is raving about the food,” Dunn noted on Thursday, with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and more a part of the holiday meal.

There was also pumpkin pie for dessert a salad course, rolls and a variety of beverages, from water to juices to hot coffee.

Randi Blake stayed busy at the pumpkin pie table, cutting slices and adding whipped cream for those who wanted it.

“My husband Ed is the interim pastor at Escalon Covenant Church,” she said, explaining that they both wanted to get involved in the community dinner effort.

Ed Blake made his way around the dining room, taking orders, delivering plates and visiting with those who came to eat. Also volunteering was Stephen Lively, taking heaping plates of food to awaiting diners while the husband/wife team of Otis and Judy Campbell made sure there was plenty of gravy simmering on the stove.

Kitchen manager Pam Mendez said it was definitely busy, but the crew worked well together and things went smoothly.

Jackson added that there were 215 home delivered meals, taken to 62 different locations. Several went to the Heritage House and Paddack Manor senior complexes, with a crew of delivery drivers making sure the Thanksgiving dinner arrived safe and warm.

It was a family affair for one Escalon group, with mom and dad Leandra and Jason Koops working alongside their children, sons Rylan, 10 and Eastyn, 6; and daughter Kenley, 8.

“We thought it would be fun to give back to the community,” Leandra said, who was part of the assembly-line style serving crew in the kitchen, working with her mom Karen Voortman and daughter Kenley dishing up the food.

“It’s fantastic,” Dunn said as diners arrived, enjoyed and shared a meal with others. “Volunteers came falling out of the sky, the chef and his team did a great job and everyone is jumping in and asking what they can do to help.”

Along with the crew that cooked, Dunn said students in a law enforcement class at the Institute decorated the tables and got all the ‘to-go’ boxes ready for the items to be added on Thursday.

For local resident Kathy Morgan, the event epitomized the holiday.

“I think Escalon understands what it means to be community,” she said. “You could almost taste the love in the meal.”

Scraping the last of the gravy out of the pan, Judy, front, and husband Otis Campbell volunteered their time to help out at Escalon’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 22.
Volunteers Karyn Bost and young Isaiah Kennedie, 6, are all smiles as they get ready to deliver a ‘take out’ box during Thursday’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner hosted in Escalon.