Community

Volunteers make tradition out of delivering Thanksgiving dinners to elderly

CEDAR RAPIDS — Rick and Marilene Julich picked up the “habit” about 22 years when they discovered all their relatives were going out of town and they would have to cook Thanksgiving dinner for themselves. “We’ve been doing it ever since,” Rick Julich of Cedar Rapids, said Thursday. “It’s fun and it’s a community of people working together.”

Their habit isn’t a bad one to have. They were two of about 150 volunteers who were packaging and delivering 815 traditional Thanksgiving dinners to elderly folks at IBEW Local 405 on Thanksgiving Day as part of the event sponsored by AbbeHealth Aging Services and Transamerica Corp.

“This is our 39th year,” Kathy Horan, AbbeHealth Aging Services president, said. “Dostal Catering did all the cooking and the volunteers put together the hot meals and cold items and then deliver them.”

The volunteers, who rotated in and out of the two prep lines, quickly scooped up turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and other traditional fare, so they could start delivering meals by 8:30 a.m.

“Everybody is energized, and you become old friends with the person next to you,” Rick Julich, owner of Rick’s Glassworks in Cedar Rapids, said.

Horan said they have many that volunteer each year like the Julichs but also gain new volunteers each year who bring their children to start a new tradition.

Trish Raap of Cedar Rapids, was one of those newbies. She and her children — Bell, 8, and Kade, 10 — started their new tradition three years ago. Raap, a former Transamerica employee, said they enjoy it so much that their family holiday with family and relatives has been bumped, so they be part of this event.

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“I had 21 people over last weekend, so we could be here today,” Raap, who was wearing a turkey headband, along with daughter Bell, said.

Kade, Raap’s son, said he likes doing because it’s helping people and “I want them to be happy.”

Raap also got her brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their kids involved this year.

Being able to deliver the meals is the special part, Rick Julich said. It’s his chance to make personal contact with his community neighbors.

“Some are reserved and just thank you,” he said.

“Others say ‘Bless your heart, this is wonderful,’” Marilene Julich added.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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