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Hundreds of younger and older volunteers turn out to Tony’s Firehouse to help kick off Delano’s new Thanksgiving Community Luncheon Thursday

Photos below by Arnold Morrison

Hundreds of volunteers help get dinners ready to serve for the Delano Community Thanksgiving Meal, Thursday morning.

Photos below by Maria Ahumada Garaygordobil, photo editor, DelanoNow

DPD Corporal Madrigal hands out Thanksgiving dinners to community members on Thanksgiving day during the Delano Community Thanksgiving Meal,

L to R: Azucena Kovalenca, Geneva Santos and Marciela Montes were first in line for the Delano Community Thanksgiving meal on Thursday morning.

Community volunteers begin the assembly line Thursday moring to kick off the Delano Community Thanksgiving Meal.

DPD Corporal Madrigal hands out Turkey lunches Thursday morning during the Delano Community Thanksgiving Meal.

Nov. 29, 2019

By Gene Garaygordobil, Editor, DelanoNow

Hundreds of volunteers turned out on a cold, wet Thanksgiving morning to be part of the new version of Delano’s Thanksgiving Community luncheon. And at times, it appeared there were more of these younger and older volunteers than the people needing a meal.

But that didn’t seem to deter anyone, as the meal scheduled to start at 11 a.m. actually kicked off at 10:20 a.m. and ran through 1 p.m. — in between drizzling showers. Servers set up in a giant white tent, moved like an assembly line getting the all-important holiday staples of turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies, stuffing, roll, and of course, pumpkin pie.

Because of the weather, most people ate their meal inside Tony’s Firehouse, at County Line Road, whose owners along with a steering committee of local leaders, brought the event back after a two-year absence.

Delano businessmen Tony Martinez Sr. and Dalip Singh, former owner of Singh GMC of Delano, started the community tradition back in 1986, providing a free Thanksgiving Community luncheon for anyone who needed it. That tradition lasted about 30 years. The first two years the meal was held at the dealership, and then it moved to the Delano Armory, which is now closed to public functions.

Art Armendariz, a Delano Joint Union High School Board trustee, and aide for Fourth District Supervisor David Couch, moderated the steering committee. He and his boss, David Couch turned out for the event geared for the needy, and those with no means to celebrate the holiday. Yet, just like Thursday turned out, the community meal was open to everyone, especially those older folks who may not have anyone to celebrate Thanksgiving with.

Armendariz welcomed everyone to the meal during a break in the action, then introduced Pastor David Vivas Jr. who provided the pre-meal blessing — in a bit of a rain storm. At that point, the food served in white, to-go containers, started moving getting to the needy lined up.

Hours before the event, the volunteers started their duties: obviously including cooking a hundred or so turkeys, carving them up, making side dishes, cutting pies, stacking drinks, and unloading items donated from all over the community, including Delano Union School District, and Delano Joint Union High School District.

High school district trustees were on hand, along with students representing the Cesar Chavez High cheer program, and boys soccer team, along with Delano High cheerleaders and Spanish Club members. Delano Soroptimist Club members were also on hand, along with Delano Chamber of Commerce staff.

Former and current City of Delano employees  cooked the specially deep-bit barbecued turkeys, who watched as everyone enjoyed their culinary work.

Diners also were treated to live Mexican music, also donated, for the meal.

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