Volunteers Make Sun City Concern Meal Project a Success

This is only part of the crowd of volunteers who showed up Thursday to help members of Menifee S...

This is only part of the crowd of volunteers who showed up Thursday to help members of Menifee Sun City Concern distribute turkey dinners to seniors in the area.
Dozens of Menifee residents of all ages gave up part of their Thanksgiving Day Thursday to assist members of Menifee Sun City Concern in distributing turkey dinners to seniors living in the Sun City core community of Menifee.

Board member Carol Sullivan came up with the idea and planned to distribute the meals with the help of her husband and one or two other volunteers. But when word got out about the project, residents from throughout Menifee showed up to take part.

Nearly 50 dinners were taken into the homes of seniors who were shut in or alone on Thanksgiving. The meals of turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, rolls and pumpkin pie were made possible through public donations. The meal packages were prepared next door to the Concern's office at Boston Billie's Restaurant, with owner Abraham Rafait (left) providing the kitchen space and staff.

Many volunteers helped with the food preparation the day before Thanksgiving. On Thursday, many more arrived to deliver the meals.

Sullivan was overwhelmed with the community support.

"My phone started ringing Friday and it hasn't stopped," she said. "I can't thank the volunteers enough."

John Strong said he came to help, along with his wife and two daughters, after reading about the project on Menifee 24/7.

"I don't have much; we're struggling, like a lot of people," Strong said. "But I wanted to give what I can. I can give my time."

Volunteers included Menifee City Council member John Denver and State Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez.

"It makes me sad to think about the seniors who don't have family or family members who aren't coming by to spend the day with them," Melendez said. "We're very blessed. If I could do more, I would. We brought the whole family out here so the kids take part in this.

"Everybody's coming here with the same intention. They're not coming here for a pat on the back. They're not here to get any praise. They just want to help other people."

The crowd of volunteers included members of the Paloma Valley High School NJROTC unit. They turned down the opportunity to earn community service hours and asked simply for the opportunity to help.

"We wanted to come down here to help serve the elderly, just to make their day," said Brittanie Flores. "They don't have family here, so we just want to make them happy for Thanksgiving."

Flores had just returned from making her first delivery.

"At first I was kind of nervous," she said. "But once you see the smile on their faces, it just fills you up with joy."