The streets leading to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center were packed Thursday morning as hundreds of seniors, students and local residents gathered for the the Castaic Lions Club’s 41st annual Thanksgiving Day Feast and Party.
The lunch, which was provided by local businesses and sponsors, fed more than 900 meals to seniors this Thanksgiving, said Flo Lawrence, a Castaic Lions Club member who’s been a part of the event for the last nine years.
“I’m seeing generations coming together,” which is what this event is all about, said Kevin MacDonald, executive director of the Senior Center. “I’m seeing the youth come together, the seniors coming together and the Lions Club coming together to gift everybody a truly great day.”
“People are so caught up in life, but this gives you a minute to think about, how can I help this person and how can I be altruistic, loving and kind?” Lawrence added. “It’s great to see the event bring the community together and connect two generations who have a lot to offer each other, but it’s even better when you consider that it’s Thanksgiving and what others could be doing with their time.”
Ryan Friese, who made a trip up to the SCV Senior Center from El Segundo, helped deliver some of the 270 meals that were sent out to the seniors who are homebound or unable to physically attend the lunch.
“I just wanted to be of service today and it was a good experience,” Friese said, mentioning that he’ll probably make the drive to return next year. “I’ve been really uplifted today and I’ll remember this for a long time.”
Joining Friese and the other adult volunteers at the SCV Senior Center were more than 200 representatives from each of the Hart District high schools.
Inside, where Maurice Tucci‘s piano tunes played above the chatter coming from the seniors, students and the community members in attendance, student volunteers bustled to seat, serve and speak with the more than 300 seniors who had made their way to Newhall.
Lawrence was emotional as he spoke on stage about the lunch and the impact it has had on him and those who have nobody to spend Thanksgiving with.
By noon, most of the seniors had been served their potatoes, turkey, ham, vegetables and pies, and were happily swapping stories with their peers who sat at nearby tables.
After spotting a senior who was having a hard time getting what he needed, West Ranch High School students Cynthia Rahman and Oviya Logesh hustled over to see how they could help before discovering their newfound friend was deaf.
After rushing to find a pen and paper, the three were able to hold a conversation and get to know each other.
“We found out he had a daughter who had the same name as Cynthia,” Logesh said.
The man would go on to explain that his daughter was 68 years old, to which Rahman replied, “I’m 17.”
With so much to eat, many of the seniors had a hard time finishing their roasted turkey and ham, which was prepared by Chef Ryan Jewell, so volunteers happily provided them with leftover boxes.
On the way out the door, every senior would receive an entire second meal to eat on Friday.
“We are so grateful to everyone who makes this possible,” Lawrence said, “and we look forward to next year’s already.”