It’s the season of giving. And cooking. And giving away the cooking.
During Thanksgiving week, the Leander VFW Post 10427 fed more than 700 people with donated turkeys, potatoes, pies and more as part of Operation Turkey. With help from volunteer preppers and drivers, hundreds of local Meals on Wheels clients, Head Start families and Veterans received special holiday meals.
VFW Operation Turkey Director Christine McCarty is a VFW member and Meals on Wheels volunteer. She organized the event, which included signing up families for weeks ahead of time, arranging hundreds of pounds of donated food; and coordinating the cooking, prep work and packaging to make it all happen in a single day.
Cedar Park businessman and VFW member Joey Smith provided the smoking skills to cook 200 turkeys in a single morning.
Smith is a competitive cooker who spends a lot of his free time giving back by cooking—his food truck can cook 27 turkeys at a time in about 2-1/2 hours. He is looking forward to getting his new truck, which will handle 60.
He frequently supports non-profits and charity events and travels to disaster areas to help feed emergency workers. “We love to cook and we love to give back to the community. This is what I do instead of playing golf. My wife and I run the truck and my friends take off work every year to be here and help us get the turkeys ready. With all the sponsors we have been able to work with, I am able to feed a person for $1 so a $20 donation will feed 20 people.” (JoesCookShack.com)
McCarty says the VFW has been providing the meals for three years, and they have doubled their meals each year. “Just over 100 Meals on Wheels clients will receive a fully-cooked hot Thanksgiving lunch, which our volunteers will deliver over nine different routes. Then tonight, we have Head Start families and other local families in need who come to us through Hill Country Ministries and pick up a whole, cooked turkey and all the fixings to take home and prepare their own meal.”
The VFW has been collecting donations of cash and food since September to prepare for the big day. Cash donations purchased the turkeys and Joe’s Cookshack did the cooking in a matter of hours. On top of that, HEB helped the helpers by donating a full lunch for all the volunteers working to feed others.
VFW Commander Dave Walden said, “This would not have happened without Christine. Christine epitomizes what our organization stands for and she is are a shining example of our great organization.”
Annually, 2.1 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary contribute more than 11 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.