The aroma of freshly baked turkey, potatoes smothered in gravy, and hot steaming vegetables filled the Sierra Senior Center last Wednesday as the Sierra Rotary Club members served up heaping plates of traditional Thanksgiving delights for Mountain Area senior citizens.
It is the 18th year that Rotary has been cooking a full Thanksgiving meal for the seniors, an event started by Rotarian Fern Facchino. When she first joined Rotary, the club would have lunch with the seniors. Facchino noticed there was nothing special for seniors on Thanksgiving, though, so she decided to do something about it and put together a Thanksgiving feast that has continued for 18 years.
"It's not just me and especially this year," Facchino said. "I can't believe the people that signed up to help us to set up decorations the night before and ... in the morning put food in the roasters."
Rotary buys all the food except for the vegetables, which are cooked and delivered by Erna's Elderberry House. Rotarians cooked up 36 pounds of potatoes to make mashed potatoes and used 14 quarts of gravy and four pans of dressing. All the food is purchased through Raley's, which Facchino said has been "fantastic" over the years.
The Yosemite High School cafeteria staff cooked 12 turkeys and delivered them to the senior center and the YHS Interact Club served heaping plates of food to seniors sitting at the holiday decorated tables. This year they served 105 seniors as well as 30 Rotarians.
The Minarets High School Jazz Band serenaded attendees while they ate.
"It was just like a well oiled clock," Facchino said. "I was so happy when I left, it was really an accomplishment."
But what makes it all worth it is the gratitude from seniors, especially those who are alone.
"We provide help to people who don't have anyone," Facchino said.
Manna House food giveaway
Food was distributed to more than 300 families at Manna House Monday morning during the annual Thanksgiving food give-a-way. More than 100 people were lined-up at Manna House when the doors opened at 10 a.m.
Families of three or more were provided boxes of food from the Fresno Food Bank including macaroni and cheese, canned peaches, stuffing, dried beans, rice, cranberry sauce and cookie mix. Chickens were provided to everyone.
A Christmas food give-a-way will be held 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Dec. 20. sign-ups for the Christmas event begin Dec. 3.