By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – The Hudson AMVETS Post 208 will again make special deliveries Christmas Day. Volunteers will prepare and provide hundreds of hot ham dinners as part of the 24th annual “Home Alone for the Holidays.” They'se already distributed 586 complimentary meals on Thanksgiving to 11 communities including Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough and Southborough. Commander Bill Rivers is organizing the project for his 18th year.
This Thanksgiving, temperatures were uncomfortably chilly for the 48 drivers making deliveries, but Rivers has seen volunteers endure worse weather conditions.
“We'se had some bad snowstorms, but they still get the dinners out there,” he said.
Volunteers, including families and members of Boy Scout Troop 77, arrived Thanksgiving morning at 11 a.m. and joined a well-organized assembly line. Among the longtime volunteers were the chefs Wayne Korpi, Chuck Tagan, David Spencer, and his father, Walter. Deboning the turkeys were Steve Cloutier and James Harrington. Preparing the stuffing were Sue Conrad and Beverly Rivers, the auxiliary president.
They'sl return to help with the Christmas ham dinner.
The concept of a holiday dinner began in 1989 when a small group of AMVETS members gathered at the post, Rivers explained.
“A bunch of members didn's have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving, so they cooked a couple of turkeys and had a meal together here at the post,” he said. “They decided to do it again Christmas. The first year, there were about 15 people. It steadily increased, then they decided to invite anybody who is home alone.”
The project expanded to include members living in the town's senior housing complexes. Then those members” neighbors were also delivered dinners. Soon, the AMVETS literally went the extra miles to fulfill requests to housing complexes and shelters in surrounding communities.
Most of the food is donated by members. Fresh vegetables are purchased with monetary donations from nonprofit organizations.
The post also hosts an annual Christmas party with spaghetti and meatballs for patients from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford. This year it was held Dec. 10 with about 40 guests.
Rivers noted that the number of dinner requests is typically higher for Thanksgiving than for Christmas.
“It's sad to say, but it's true that people tend to pick up their elderly relatives only on Christmas rather than both holidays” he said.
Also at Christmas, there are usually less volunteers for drivers.
“I have to wait for them to come back from making their run and then they take another delivery,” Rivers said. “I don's want the dinners sitting out there in the cold car.”
A Vietnam War veteran, Rivers remembers serving overseas and receiving a hot holiday meal.
“It was great – a touch of home,” he said.
Requests for a Christmas dinner delivery, as well as offers to volunteer, can be made by calling 978-568-8178. Deliveries begin at 11 a.m. Dinners will also be served Christmas Day from noon to 1 p.m. at the Hudson AMVETS Post 208, located at 5 South Street.
File photos/Ed Karvoski Jr.