LIHUE — Volunteering, said Dan Munson, “is a calling that I get from God regardless of where I am at.”
In Norman, Okla., Munson can be found volunteering at his town’s Red Andrew’s Christmas dinner, where he and other residents help feed about 8,000 each year, or helping out at annual Wounded Warrior Project events.
“It’s just something that I love to do,” Munson said. “I love to volunteer whether it’s helping out people who are homeless, less fortunate, or just people who want to come together as a community.”
Munson, who is visiting Kauai for a week before spending an extra week on Oahu for business, said it seemed only right for him to volunteer at the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving luncheon Wednesday at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.
“The aloha spirit is alive and you can tell that people here really love their community,” Munson said in between serving food.
Salvation Army Advisory Board Chair Katie Beer said 36 turkeys — 35 of which were prepared by Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club Executive Chef Guy Higa — were cooked ahead of Wednesday’s free event.
Other Thanksgiving essentials, such as the stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie, were prepared by Kauai Community College students in the culinary arts program.
The luncheon fed about 250 people. A few hundred more were served by a simultaneous Salvation Army-sponsored Thanksgiving luncheon in Hanapepe.
And there was a lot of help to go around, too, including volunteers from Kapaa High School Interact Club, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, U-Turn for Christ Kauai and the Zonta Club of Kauai and New Hope Kauai.
“For this event, we always have too many volunteers — we always have people who we haven’t planned for,” Beer said. “We always have enough and then we have more who come and we kind of have to fit them in because we weren’t for that many of them.”
As for the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, well, there was a lot of that to be spead around as well.
“I am grateful for so many things — one of which is to be home and out of the cold,” said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who made a guest appearance at the luncheon and served up a few plates for local residents.
“This is what it’s all about — this is why I do what I do,” Gabbard said later in the day. “It’s moments like those that I carry back with me to Washington every time I go — it keeps me focused, grounded and motivated given the frustrating environment situation that we’re operating in right now.”
William Burwell, a 68-year-old Lihue resident, said he has been coming to the event each year for nearly a decade and enjoys seeing friends.
“I’m just thankful for everything and the great food that we’re able to eat,” Burwell said.