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Help for those in need of food — or just company

Posted: November 23, 2010 9:36 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Roger Hasper loves to feed people.

On Thanksgiving Day, as he’s done every year for the past five years, he’s expecting to feed more people than he’s ever fed before.

“Every year, it doubles,” he said.

“Last year, we saw about 450 people — so we’re looking at nine-ish (hundred) this year.”

On Thursday, he and a small band of community helpers will be serving up Thanksgiving dinner to whoever wants one beginning at about 10 a.m. in the space behind his bicycle-repair shop on Railroad Avenue and Market Street.

“We’ll be serving up food until the food runs out,” he said.

This year, unlike past years, Hasper is noticing a troubling trend: People are phoning him to ask if they need to bring proof they’re destitute.

“What kind of society are we coming to when you got to prove you’re broke?
“It’s not just for the homeless,” he said. “This is also for the college kid who can’t make it home or the widow who can’t get it together.”

Everyone is welcome.

By his example, more and more people every year are coming to help out.

“We have a sign-up sheet of people wanting to help, and that list is growing,” he said.

Turkey, ham, potatoes, pies — are just a few of the fundamental Thanksgiving food items volunteers are pledging to bring to the event.

“It’s about feeding people on a beautiful day,” Hasper said.

Seniors unable to get over to Roger’s annual dinner behind the Newhall Bicycle Company don’t have to worry this year, as another band of volunteer cooks is planning to come to them.

At 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, seniors can sit down for a tasty traditional Thanksgiving meal at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center on Market Street, a block from Hasper’s Thanksgiving Day feast.

Since some key government agencies and offices are expected to be closed Friday, volunteers organized by Flo Lawrence of the Castaic Lions Club are going to ensure seniors showing up for dinner Thursday leave with Friday meals as well.

When Lawrence heard that some of the regular services available to seniors would not be operating the Friday following Thanksgiving, he got on the phone and asked friends to help him ensure every senior gets a Thanksgiving dinner.

“It was a very easy sell for Flo to me,” Allan Cameron said. “And it was an easy sell for me to recruit others.

“Everybody realizes that they could be one of these people at some point in their lives.”
Cameron said he and other volunteers recruited by the Lions Clubs of Santa Clarita and Castaic will be in the kitchen at 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving, cooking and preparing the meals.

Among the friends turning out to ensure seniors have a memorable Thanksgiving are Greg Amsler, owner of Salt Creek Grille, who is bringing about 200 servings of mashed potatoes, people from the Tournament Players Club of Valencia with about the same portion of grilled vegetables and someone else with 200 pounds of hams and turkeys.

“You can call this one valley, one community,” Cameron added.


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