Our San Antonio office has a yearly tradition of partnering with the Greater San Antonio Builders Association (GSABA) to surprise trainees from the Lackland Air Force Base with a Thanksgiving meal. Hotchkiss Helps is proud to supply the turkeys for this important event. This year, a few first timers from Houston joined in to show appreciation and support. Maryana breaks down the event day for us:
Up and at ‘em! Angela and I head to the Greater San Antonio Builders Association (GSABA) building, where we’ll meet up with the rest of the crew.
It’s cold out there! We meet up with fellow Hotchkiss team members Colby Duke, Traci Merkel, Laura Long and several other volunteers from GSABA. Once we have our cool cat aprons on, we’re ready to work.
A group of us unloads all 50 turkeys, and we start draining 11 big yeti coolers that have been holding the thawing turkeys. We start cutting the packaging and prepping the turkeys … including removing the gizzards. (Side note: How did a vegan get placed on gizzard removal duty?)
We mix up the seasoning, roll each turkey in it, then start frying 11 turkeys at a time.
As for the guys on turkey duty, it’s definitely not their first rodeo. The guys have a system down for the frying process. Our timekeeper keeps us moving in an appropriately militant fashion. “Turkey three, up! Four, down! Five, up!”
Laura and Traci serve as our clean-up crew, removing oil and cleaning in between batches.
At this point, I’m getting really excited to see how this plays out, and looking forward to seeing the trainees.
Volunteers line up to form a welcoming line for the 250 Air Force trainees. The first guest walks off the bus and is totally confused. He stops and asks someone where he should go, explaining that he’s been sent here to clean.
After a second, it clicks for him that he isn’t here to clean after all, and volunteers show him around. As the other trainees enter, we shake their hands, welcome them and thank them for their service.
A choir sings to kick off this special lunch, and we welcome 103-year-old Richard Cole, the last surviving member of the “Doolittle Raiders” and co-pilot of a pivotal World War II mission. It’s a pretty moving moment.
Lunch continues and a trainee stops me to say thank you. I tell her I hope she enjoyed it, and she says, “I was so surprised! This all just feels so glamorous. Thank you.”
That’s a wrap! The trainees file out, and we start to clean up.
“I’m so glad that I got to be a part of this. We had a lot of laughs, smiles, sweet moments, and a few teary ones too. It’s absolutely worth it for me to brave the cold (and gizzards) when our guests are braving so much more.” -Maryana