Las Vegas-area volunteers assemble, deliver meals for nearly 1,000 seniors

On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers didn’t just provide seniors with a warm meal.

Because those who delivered the plates stayed to chat with the residents, seniors who might have been lonely on the holiday got to experience a little human kindness.

“This is a ministry of visitation,” said Dorothy Distel, who organized the event. “It’s not about how fast we can deliver plates. We want to step into their world for a few minutes and keep them company.”

St. Thomas More Catholic Community, 130 N. Pecos Road, and HopeLink of Southern Nevada have worked together over the years to make sure seniors are taken care of for Thanksgiving.

For the meal, volunteers prepared turkey and gravy, yams, green beans, cranberry sauce, bread and a slice of pumpkin pie.

In addition to the food, youths from the church made homemade decorations to put in the package.

This is all made possible by volunteers, Distel said.

Because this is an annual event the church has sponsored for years, she added, it’s easy to get parishioners involved.

“We hold sign-ups at Mass,” she said. “We have people who have family in town, so they decide to take them when they do deliveries. Some wives make their husbands and children do it while they cook the Thanksgiving meal.”

The delivery day requires a lot of planning.

Don Miller, the senior services specialist for HopeLink, said the organization provides food to seniors in need throughout the year.

When November comes around, the organization asks those residents if they would like a special Thanksgiving meal.

“Our part is rounding up eligible people,” Miller said. “Not everyone knows about this.”

Distel said they also get in touch with Henderson senior residential facilities to reach any senior who might have been missed.

Once people have signed up, volunteers confirm with them days before Thanksgiving; they also make notes about seniors’ special needs, such as lack of mobility or Spanish-speaking homes.

The day before Thanksgiving, the church had 533 addresses of seniors it planned to serve.

“We are preparing 937 meals for those addresses,” she said.

Distel added the number of seniors signed up usually fluctuates until the day before Thanksgiving with late additions or people who were invited to dinners at the last minute.

On Thanksgiving morning, the church invited volunteers to Mass. Afterward, they had a chance to pick up items and begin the trek to drop off meals.

Meals were set to be dropped off between 11 a.m. and noon.

“(Volunteers) usually call to let them know they are on their way,” Distel said.

After all the seniors are accounted for, a member of the church takes leftover or unaccounted-for meals out to the streets to feed the homeless or anyone else in need.

“Nothing goes to waste,” Distel said. “We are doing God’s work.”

To reach Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle, email mlyle@viewnews.com or call 702-387-5201. Find him on Twitter: @mjlyle.

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