KAPAA — Mary Margaret Smith, one of the leaders of the Kapaa Interfaith Association free community Thanksgiving Luncheon, said the nice thing about the meal served at the All Saints Gym on Thanksgiving is that everyone sits together.
“It doesn’t matter who you are,” Smith said. “We all sit together to enjoy a meal.”
More than 200 volunteers from the Kauai Interfaith Association served up more than 1,500 meals, including home deliveries.
“I started doing this when I was at the Kapaa Hongwanji,” said Rev. Kazunori Takahashi of the Lihue Hongwanji while waiting for his share of home-bound deliveries. “When I was at Kapaa, I used to speak at the service. Now, I come and help deliver.”
More than 400 meals were scheduled to be delivered in the areas between Lihue and Anahola in time for Thanksgiving lunch. Smith said this is a slight increase over last year when 380 meals were delivered.
“We had a lot of volunteers wanting to help,” Smith said. “And this does not include the 40 volunteers that Mark Oyama brought to help serve the meals.”
Oyama and his crew from Mark’s Place and Contemporary Flavors Catering has been doing the KIA meal since 2008, Smith said.
“We originally started at the Kapaa Hongwanji Mission social hall back in 2003,” she said. “We had to not do it when we lost the certified kitchen. And when we started up back in 2008, Mark came in and has been doing this with us ever since.”
Joel Gresmeyer of Ogden, Utah has his family enjoying the meal, and entertainment being provided by Sandy and Doug McMasters, kihoalu masters.
“This is a great event,” Gresmeyer said. “We’re staying here for a few days, and heard about it when we attended the McMasters’ concert, here. They told us about this and invited us.”
Genny Moura was enjoying her meal with Merlan Low.
“I’m really crippled,” Moura said. “I went to the Sunday meal where they cut my hair — for free. It’s good to look nice because it is the holidays, but you know haircuts — it’s not cheap.”
George Mukai said Nelson Mukai came to volunteer when they needed help.
“We had to get up by 7 a.m.,” George said. “Kapaa Ice Company, they gave us all the ice, said the ice was ready so we had to go get it.”
Kapaa Ice Company was one of the many sponsors, including Big Save/Times Supermarkets, Dorriellyn Ubongon and Makalea Nurseries, Esaki’s Produce, Kenny Ton and family at Pho Kauai and Kauai Nail Spa, the Kauai Coffee Co., Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, the Kapaa Hongwanji State Social Concern Committee, Mark’s Place and Contemporary Flavors Catering, and the Sloggett Fund who made the day possible.
“It’s such a good feeling to see everyone come together,” said Sgt. Major Ian Versammy of the Kapaa High School JROTC. “This is why we serve.”