The mere act of saying “thanks” can be a blessing, said Rev. Keith McCollim of Australia and the minister at the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Eleele.
“This day, referring to the Australian National Day of Thanksgiving celebrated on the last Saturday in May, is such an occasion to remember the many blessings we have received, and from where they have come,” McCollim said Thursday during the Kapaa Interfaith Association community Thanksgiving at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Kapaa.
Jim Sura of Huntley, Illinois, said he was going to visit Alverado “Chick” Cacabellos following the luncheon.
“He saved my life while we were in serving in the U.S. Army,” Sura said. “We were in a truck when it tipped, but we don’t remember those things. We never look back, always forward.”
Sura was among the more than 650 people served Thanksgiving meals prepared by Mark Oyama and the staff of Mark’s Place and Contemporary Flavors Catering.
“This is wonderful,” said Rev. Ryan Newman of the All Saints’ Episcopal Church and Preschool. “When Mark first started, he said he could only do so many meals, and we had a few hundred people. The following year, he said he could only do so many meals, and we have more people. Today, he’s prepared 1,100 meals for to-go and sit-down. This event could not take place without him and all those people who help him.”
Marty Amaro was volunteering with the Mark’s Place crew for the first time.
“I need something to do,” Amaro said. “I was serving rice at the delivery line, and about the time I got my scoop perfected, we had already gone through 400 meals. Now, I’m warmed up and they won’t let me scoop rice here.”
Aaron Arizo said he’s amazed at how big the event has grown.
“When we first started more than six years ago, it was not this big,” Arizo said. “There were 150 deliveries, and maybe 300 people served, if we were lucky. Today, the deliveries are almost the same as the people being served.”
Newman said the event will go on throughout the day.
“I met several people from the homeless summit last week, so when this lunch is done, I’m packing 25 to 30 meals to take over to the Hanamaulu Beach Park,” he said.
Despite the holiday, lifeguards Cleve Zarbaugh and Eric Pereza were on duty at the Lydgate Park tower.
“Today is pretty good,” Zarbaugh said. “The weather has everyone at home cooking, instead of out here where the wind is blowing and the water is pretty choppy. In the past, Gloria Aki from the St. Catherine’s Church used to bring us some food because she’s always thinking about us. Hopefully, this will be a good day.”
Newman said the efforts of people who work on the holiday enable others to enjoy it.
“We are thankful of what they do,” Newman said. “Their hard work is how we can enjoy events like this. When we have barbecue gatherings at Lydgate Park, we always offer them burgers and food.”