LIHUE — Debra Kaiu said she heard about the luncheon at a supermarket Tuesday night while shopping.
“I called The Kauai Bus and the paratransit picked me up, first,” said Kaiu, living most of the time in a broken down truck. “Then, we went to the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital to pick up my mom, Phyllis Goias, and we made it. This is our Thanksgiving.”
Kaiu and Goias were among the several hundred people enjoying The Salvation Army’s 55th annual Thanksgiving Community Luncheon, free to everyone at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall Wednesday.
A similar presentation was offered at The Salvation Army’s Hanapepe Corps’ community hall where several hundred people on the South Shore and Westside enjoyed a full turkey meal with all the trimmings.
Sixto Tabay had a lot to be thankful for as he enjoyed his meal with his wife Alberta after spending time chatting with Major John Chamness, the Salvation Army’s divisional commander for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands who went on to offer the holiday blessing for all.
“I’m going to get my medal,” the Filipino World War II veteran said. “They said they were going to send it to me.”
Tabay, the sole surviving member of 13 original Filipino who signed up to serve during World War II, said he waited a long time before learning that he would be the recipient of the Congressional Medal.
“We just wanted to do something to help,” said Tim Becker of South Dakota. “We called The Salvation Army and they told us to come here where they would find something for us to do.”
Becker’s family, including wife Frances, and children Christian and Mikayla, and friend Ray and Mary Burnett, and Sean McDonald of South Dakota joined the ranks of the Zonta Club of Kauai, the Kapaa High School Interact Club, and other community volunteers in serving up the meal to appreciative diners.
“They have me serving again,” said Dimples Kano, a volunteer of more than 50 years. “I used to cut the pumpkin pies, but today, they have me doing the rolls.”
Kano said she started volunteering after being invited to a luncheon as a child.
“I had so much fun,” the veteran volunteer said. “I started coming to help, and I’m still doing this.”
Josie Cortez of the Rotary Club of Kapaa also rolled up her sleeves to serve up helpings of shredded turkey prepared by the Salvation Army volunteers Tuesday.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, but the Rotary Club meetings are on Wednesday,” Cortez said. “This year, we blacked out Wednesday because of Thanksgiving and that allowed me the chance to come and help.”
Naty Bali said she always manages to get the prettiest placemat prepared by students in the community schools.
“I’m so lucky,” Bali said. “Every year I come, and I always get the prettiest one. They’re so nice. Happy Thanksgiving!”