BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Every year for the last 30 or so, Holiday Helpers has served a hot Thanksgiving meal to about 1,000 people in the Raising Cane's River Center, but as many of the original Holiday Helpers have moved on or become too old or ill to help, this annual event is in jeopardy for the first time.
"It means a lot to the people," said Baton Rouge City Constable Reginald Brown, who has been the heart of Holiday Helpers since its beginning. "They don't come in just for the food, but they come for the fellowship. They come for the meeting and greeting of each other, and they come from all walks of life. And I think it sends the right message. As a matter of fact, I know it sends the right message, and that's unity, bringing us together."
But Constable Brown explains that due to older volunteers either passing away or becoming too feeble to work on Thanksgiving Day, he is forced to consider the inevitable.
"We didn't have a lot of options," the constable continued. "My wife and a couple of friends sat down at the table and said, 'Don't dissolve Holiday Helpers. How about looking at merging it?'"
After several meetings with Holiday Helpers and a couple of meetings with Michael Acaldo of St. Vincent de Paul, merging was exactly what they did in order to keep the annual Holiday Helpers Thanksgiving Day tradition alive!
"We merged and unified with St. Vincent de Paul. After all, they do the job that we do on holidays 365 days a year, so it made good sense," said Brown.
Michael Acaldo and his team could not have been more supportive. "We were very honored to be selected by Holiday Helpers to continue this tradition, not just this year, but for many years to come," Acaldo said, beaming with a smile. "So yes, we'll have our Thanksgiving meal at the St. Vincent de Paul dining room, but we'll also be responsible for working with Constable Brown and taking over the Thanksgiving meal at the River Center. That is such a fantastic tradition for our community. Over 1,000 people are served there. We serve over 600. When you put the two together, it's a magnificent example of our community in action."
So WAFB was honored to contribute at the very least a small d rop in the bucket toward the cost of the Holiday Helpers and St. Vincent de Paul's tradition of a hot meal with all the fixins for Thanksgiving.
Acaldo humbly accepted our $300 cash gift.
"Constable Brown isn't here with us at the moment, but thank you on his behalf, St. Vincent de Paul's behalf, and all of us that work together to build a better community," Acaldo said.
St. Vincent de Paul is still in need of volunteers to help serve and clean up during and after the Thanksgiving Day meal. Contact Acaldo at St. Vincent de Paul at svdpbr.org.
And to nominate someone for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com.