Volunteers deliver hot Thanksgiving meals to the needy and shut-ins
Jaime and Tracy Gonzalez piled into their Honda Pilot on Thursday morning with their teenage daughter, Isabella, and her friend, Gabriela Chauta, and rode the 25 minutes or so from their home in Warner Robins to Macon to meet a stranger.
At that meeting — one that lasted all of five minutes — they found and delivered what might be the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
The Gonzalezes decided last year that they wanted to serve meals to folks in need on the holiday. But instead of doing that, say, in a kitchen setting, for the past two Thanksgivings they have delivered meals prepared at the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia to people’s houses.
They wanted, as Tracy Gonzalez put it, “to do something different.” To visit people, if only for a moment, to say a prayer, give them a hug, a warm meal and wish them well. Small things, perhaps, but meaningful just the same. And memorable.
Last November the Gonzalezes got a kick out of a guy in fancy clothes driving a BMW who pulled up at the downtown Rescue Mission and asked, “Is this where I get a free Thanksgiving dinner?”
“Uhhh, no,” they informed him.
This year the Rescue Mission prepared some 1,400 plates of turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn and cake to hand out across the region. One family drove a single turkey dinner to a woman in Jackson.
On the way to one of the houses the Gonzalezes delivered to on Thursday, a place off Rocky Creek Road in southwest Macon, Tracy Gonzalez noticed that the woman they were going to see, someone chosen for them at random, was named Ruby.
“Last time,” Tracy, 42, who works as a cardiac nurse, said, “we fell in love with all the names. Last time we got a Thelma. … These are people who are homebound, and we may be the only people they see on Thanksgiving.”
Her husband, Jaime Gonzalez, 51, a former Air Force man who now runs a window-cleaning company, did the driving. When he took a sharp turn off Rocky Creek Road, Tracy joked, “Don’t spill the greens.”
When they pulled into Ruby Samples’ driveway and knocked on her carport door about 10:30 a.m., Samples said, “Come on in.”
Samples, 72, suffering from the effects of a stroke, was in her living room. She asked the visitors to put her dinner in the fridge.
“Thank you for thinking about me,” she said.
“We want to pray with you, too,” Tracy Gonzalez said.
“I would love that,” Samples said.
Before they prayed, Samples mentioned that her son, Corey, had recently died in Tennessee. He was 47.
“An 18-wheeler ran over him and killed him,” Samples said.
“I’m so sorry to hear about that,” Tracy said. “That’s heartbreaking.”
“It’s a hurting feeling,” Samples said, bowing her head. “You can’t imagine.”
From a sofa across the room, Isabella Gonzalez, 15, a student at Houston County High, told Samples, “I hope your heart heals from the grieving that you’ve had in the past couple of weeks.”
Her friend, Gabriela, added, “I’ll just keep you in my prayers.”
Then they all hugged Miss Ruby goodbye and headed home, their Thanksgiving complete.