The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Giving thanks, giving back


November 24, 2017

Trent Caviness, left, and Malaki Henry prepare plates at the Lighthouse Mission's Thanksgiving meal Thursday. There were 470 meals served between dine-in and deliveries.

Who said there was no such thing as a free meal? In any case, there is no time like a holiday for some exceptions.

"We don't want anyone going hungry on these things," said Daun Medaris, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9515 Commander. The VFW post in Portales held its seventh annual community Thanksgiving meal Thursday afternoon, noting 147 meals served in addition to 49 packaged up and handed out.

To put that in perspective, Medaris said, post volunteers began preparations two weeks in advance and put the first of three turkeys in the oven at 2 a.m. the day of the event. Add to that 50 pounds of potatoes, 30 pounds of yams, 20 pounds of green bean casserole and four hams and you have enough food for a small army. Plus leftovers.

The event was open to the public but the volunteer staff was mostly military affiliates, some of them recently returned from service abroad.

"For these young combat veterans that come back, some of them are dealing with (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and all that," Medaris said. "For them to be able to serve a meal like this, it can help them to cope in a way."

Around the corner, the Community Outreach dinner ran for its 16th straight year in the Portales Memorial Building. Judging by the number of rolls that were handed out, organizer Joe Parie called it an "excellent turnout," with 440 meals either delivered or served on site.

"I've been here twice already today and indulged myself three times. And today, I'm thankful to be alive" said Jerry Owen, revealing a scar on his neck from a recent accident that left him hospitalized in Lubbock.

Lisa Wilson of Portales attended the meal with her sister, Leslie. She said her mother passed recently and that she "didn't want to cook this year."

In addition to the food, guests had their pick of energy-efficient Christmas lights and showerheads provided by Xcel Energy and warm-weather items collected by organizers during the month.

"I hit the mother lode. I got jackets for me and my son and a baby blanket for my grandson," said Sylvia Valdez. "And today I'm giving thanks for everything. We had a pretty good year."

The remaining jackets will be distributed to families in a neighborhood in Juarez, Mexico this weekend, Parie said, as organizers have done for much of the past 15 years.

Meanwhile in Clovis, the Lighthouse Mission tallied 256 meals served and 214 delivered, said volunteer Jessica Karges.

In its 15th year running, the shelter's meal drew over 75 volunteers, some of them taking the opportunity to deepen ties with the community.

Matt and Rachel Elbus, who came to Cannon Air Force Base just over three months past, said it was too far a trip for them to visit either of their respective hometowns in Illinois or Alabama. Instead, they spent the holiday working the take-out meal assembly station.

"It gets us involved and gives us a chance to see more than what's on base," said Rachel Elbus. "And to serve like this, it's a very humbling experience."


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