AURORA, Colo. – As you prepare your thanksgiving meal, imagine getting ready to serve 3,000 guests. The Eagles Lodge in Aurora hosted a dinner for thousands of local senior citizens this past Saturday. And in the kitchen, Aurora police officers.
It has become a thanksgiving tradition. The Eagles Lodge has been hosting this dinner for the past 42 years for seniors who wouldn't otherwise get a holiday meal. Officer Matt Helfer has been pitching in for 17 years. Officer Gene Colwell has been volunteering for 14 years.
Glatis Hoffman has been coordinating the meal for the Eagles for about 25 years. She said, “Our main thing is people helping people.” When they started 42 years ago, they served 300 people. This year, they prepared more than 3,000 meals. Glatis said, “They`re doing 101 turkeys, we got 250 pounds of ham, 400 pounds of sweet potatoes.”
Everything is made from scratch. Officer Helfer said, “Everything is homemade, like your grandma.” They start cooking the week before the dinner. Hundreds of volunteers make this a well-oiled machine. Glatis said, “We get it pretty well down to a science.” She added, “Our cops in the kitchen do a miraculous job.”
Officer Helfer said, “I like old people. They have the greatest stories, they appreciate it the most. What better way to give back to them than do this Thanksgiving.” Some officers have been doing this so long, their kids are now involved. Jacob Spanos’ father is one of the officers. Jacob said, “It brings everybody together and it`s so fun and it just feels amazing to be able to help everybody out.”
The officers say this helps build a relationship with the community. Officer Colwell said, “They know I`m just or we whoever is out there, they`re not just a uniform, they`re an actual person and they care about them.”
And for the seniors that can`t make it, the food is boxed up, steaming hot and delivered to them at home. Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz not only supports his officers doing this project. He shows up to help deliver the meals.
The seniors are so appreciative. Thomas Belt said, “Today a lot of people tell me thank you for your service. A lot of people in aurora need to say thank you the police department for their service.”
It’s an annual tradition for these seniors ... these volunteers ... and these officers who signed up to 'serve' and protect.