BARSTOW • While some people wake up early on Thanksgiving Day to prepare food for friends and family and put on their holiday best, hundreds of Barstow area residents as well as a few visitors put on hairnets and helped deliver meals to the needy and served food to hundreds of area residents on Thursday.
The day kicked off with more than 200 Barstow area residents preparing 800 turkey dinners for delivery during the Holiday Meals program. The meals were delivered to the needy, people on hospice care and seniors who can't cook for themselves, as well as families staying in local motels. Volunteers also delivered 245 baskets for needy families last Saturday.
Holiday Meals coordinator Mark Sielski said the number of volunteers who helped put on the fifth Thanksgiving Holiday Meals was similar to previous years and that many of the volunteers have showed up every year since the beginning.
Barstow Planning Commissioner Carmen Hernandez said she is one of the people who has helped out every Thanksgiving.
"That's one thing about Thanksgiving here," said Hernandez. "No one is lacking for a meal."
Barstow residents were joined by a few Fort Irwin soldiers who decided they wanted to help the needy on Thanksgiving, including Sgt. 1st Class Ernest Brenner, who said he always helps the needy on holidays.
"This is something I'm used to doing," said Brenner. "I try to give back to those who don't have."
For Carol Owens, who is visiting from England, Thanksgiving isn't a holiday that she grew up with, but she still believes in giving back when she can.
While people were delivering meals on Thursday, others were lining up to enjoy the communal Thanksgiving feast held at Straw Hat Pizza by the Barstow Police Activities League. Jeff Eason Jr., who organized the event with the help of other Barstow Police Activities League members, said they planned to serve between 1,000 to 1,200 meals to residents.
Many of the volunteers helping at Straw Hat were members of Saturday Night Cruisers, Barstow Police Explorers or the Barstow Police Activities League.
Chelsea Phillips, a Barstow Police Explorer, said this was her third year helping at the feast.
"(The best part is) serving food to people that don't have it," said Phillips.
For some of the people eating at Straw Hat on Thanksgiving morning, the communal meal was the only way they would be able to eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
"If it wasn't for this, a lot of people wouldn't be eating today," said Barstow resident Heidi Cheney, who said this was her second year enjoying the meal at Straw Hat.