Navy Command Senior Chief Cheryl Heavens, left, and Navy veteran Mike Hall, a member of American Legion Post 16, have a laugh as they begin to fill their Styrofoam containers.
Additional photos may be found on the LVN Facebook page.
Photo by Steve Ranson.
Every year, the preparation of holiday meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas at Fallon’s American Legion Post 16 produces a military feel to it.
Cooks and other helpers from Post 16 and the community arrive at the Legion hall at O-Dark-Thirty to finish cooking the turkeys and side dishes. After 7 p.m. more volunteers arrive to help package the food in Styrofoam containers, and about 20-30 drivers pick up their plastic bags stuffed with food containers and head out in all directions. They have received and studied their lists of Churchill County residents who receive food from the Meals on Wheels program.
“Each list has about four stops on it, and there’s a reason for it,” said Paul “Pip” Valentin, director of Post’s 16 holiday food preparation and delivery, told the volunteers. “We want you to take some time and talk these people.”
Valentin said the personal touch is important, especially if the elderly resident is home alone on Thanksgiving.
“I remember my first time I was delivering to eight homes,” he added.
Jill Manha, the director of Pennington Life Center, said what the American Legion post and its volunteers do on Thanksgiving and Christmas is invaluable.
“They allow our people to have the time off with their families,” she said.
A combination of active duty and retired military along with residents were eager to help on Thanksgiving morning.
HN (hospitalman) Teegan Palmowski is far from his home of Cleveland, Ohio.
“I’m volunteering on Thanksgiving because we’re able to give back to people who are struggling or in need,” he said.
This is the first time OS (operations specialist) Devante Vaughn has volunteered to help package and deliver meals.
“The chief asked for volunteers,” he said. “I’ve always had a good Thanksgiving, and we give the people that experience as well.”
Navy Command Senior Chief Cheryl Heavens volunteered and was impressed with the operation.
“It’s very efficient,” she said after the volunteers packaged the meals within an hour, and Valentin was handing out delivery routes to the drivers.
Jay Horsley, a retired captain with the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office, has been a frequent volunteer. He also volunteers with other clubs and organizations.
“I enjoy this very much,” he said of helping with the Thanksgiving meals.
Likewise, Dianne Card-Latta said her family is out of town, and she decided to volunteer to help others.
Valentin said 65 people — up from 60 a year ago — volunteered to deliver almost 150 meals. In addition to the deliveries, the American Legion post also had a free sit-down Thanksgiving meal during the noontime.
The next holiday meals will be prepared and delivered on Christmas, and he said volunteers are also needed for that day. To volunteer for Christmas, contact Valentin at firstname.lastname@example.org.