Serving ‘Hot Meals and the Love of Jesus’
Posted – November 20, 2018
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Culinary arts students from Victor Valley High School were among an army of volunteers who served the needy during the 10th Annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet.
Hosted by the Victor Valley Rescue Mission on the campus of VVHS in Victorville, about 2,500 people were expected at Tuesday’s outreach that provides “hot meals and the love of Jesus to the community,” VVRM Director Bill Edwards said.
“We served about 1,800 last year and this year we’re expecting more people because I challenged the team to spread the word about our dinner,” Edwards said. “I bought 2,500 dessert plates by faith and asked the Lord to help us to use each one.”
Edwards said this year’s annual event included volunteers from across the High Desert serving meals, providing free haircuts, offering flu shots, and conducting outdoor activities such as face painting, crafts, live music and a bounce house.
“We also handed out 150 free Thanksgiving baskets filled with turkeys and other holiday goodies,” Edwards said. “With the baskets and the meals on campus, we’re probably feeding close to 4,000 people this week.”
In the school’s Health Services Building, representatives with the March of Dimes, St. Joseph Health, St. Mary and San Bernardino Department of Public Health WIC program offered health resources to adults and children.
Azusa Pacific University Nursing Instructor Lydia Garcia-Usry and MODs Director of Maternal and Child Health Marta Bills told the Daily Press it was important to educate mothers on postpartum depression, breastfeeding and other health issues
Culinary students Anahi Garibo, Valeria Roblero and Lauren Rodriguez said it was a pleasure to sacrifice their Thanksgiving break to serve those in need.
Nearly 30 students spent the last eight days preparing over 200 turkeys, mountains of mashed potatoes, gallons of gravy and many trays of stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce, Garibo said.
“I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” Garibo, 17, said. “I love seeing big smiles on people’s faces after we serve them.”
Rodriguez, 17, who’d like to study to become a labor and delivery nurse, said she plans to continue serving people in the High Desert and “all over the world one day.”
Riverside Preparatory Middle School Student student Cesar Maldonado said he also decided to lend a hand in the kitchen.
“I’ve always wanted to help the homeless so when my cousin told me about this event I was all over it,” Maldonado said. “I don’t mind giving up my school break for a great cause.”
As the doors of the school cafeteria opened, a team of smiling volunteers welcomed streams of people, escorted guests to their seats, and handed out drinks and plates of food.
“If it wasn’t for today, we wouldn’t be having a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Leticia Martinez, 35, as she held her 5-year-old daughter, Natalie. “We’re new to the area so we don’t have much and we really don’t know anybody.”
Wearing a VVRM apron, Hesperia Chamber of Commerce office manager Christy Harris said she was “excited and blessed” to be serving Thanksgiving dinner to the community.
“I’m representing the chamber and Victor Valley Christian Church today,” Harris said. “We have about 30 volunteers from the church that came out to set up the outdoors activities and to serve meals.”
Holding a tray of food wrapped in foil, Franky Smith, 47, jumped on his bicycle and headed back into the neighborhood surrounding the school.
“They told me I could have seconds, so I’m taking home my seconds and I might come back for more,” Smith said. “This is my only food for the week.”
The VVRM’s Christmas Toy Giveaway is scheduled for Dec. 18 at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville, where nearly 3,000 new toys will be given to children of the High Desert