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WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
One man's commitment to feed needy
families on O'ahu's west side has turned into an entire community's
Thanksgiving tradition that is quickly spreading to other parts of the island.
For the past 28 years, Uncle George
Paris has spent his Thanksgiving preparing and delivering food to others.
"Thanksgiving is a day of giving
and that's my gift back to our community," said Uncle George, who is the director
of the Iron Workers Stabilization Fund.
An army of volunteers flock to Paris'
home to help out and more people show up every year.
"They just love doing it. They just come by and I know it's going to
happen," described Uncle George, explaining he no longer calls anyone to
ask for help as he did in the early years.
"To find these much volunteers
coming out on Thanksgiving Day is just -- I'm -- but again, I'll continue doing
it as long as I'm breathing," Uncle George said, choking up.
Volunteers say it's a privilege to
"There are a lot of people who
are less fortunate, who are hungry every day, every week, every month. This is once a year. All these folks from various churches, various
groups, individuals, unions and business people – this is their way of giving
back and trying to ease a special day like this for other people," explained
Faauuga Tootoo, Paris' nephew and a long-time volunteer.
For years, the Ah You family of Laie
and other volunteers have helped Uncle George with his mission. The last five years, they've chipped in by
cooking the turkeys for his Thanksgiving meal in an imu.
"We so admire that and wanted to
assist and Dad wanted to help out by at least cooking the turkeys in the imu
making it a little easier – as well as take care of all the needs we have here,"
said Kingsley Ah You .
This year they cooked more than 250
turkeys and more than 50 hams in the traditional underground oven.
"It's a connection to our roots –
this is something that's unique to us," said Representative Richard Lee Fale,
who helps volunteer. "It's just part of celebrating who we are. We're thankful that we live here in Hawaii and
have the community that we do," said Lee, who represents House District 47
(Waialua, Haleiwa, Pupukea, Kahuku, Laie, Hauula, Waiahole, Sunset Beach,
Punaluu, and Kaaawa).
Fresh out of the imu,
volunteers get to work shredding the turkey.
"We've been doing this a long
time – since we were small – so we're used to it. We love it. We enjoy it," said Manny Crawford. "Just watching their face enjoying the food,
enjoying our hard work – even though, it's not hard work when you're doing it
for a right cause," Crawford added.
While some of the turkeys
stay in Laie to feed local elderly families or BYU students who are away from
home there – the majority make their way to the west side for Uncle George's
Volunteers plate kalua turkey, ham, gravy
and a mound of rice – a local touch 18-year-old Kekoa Simeona especially liked. He's raising his seven younger siblings all
on his own.
"It's a blessing for my family to
have lunch today for Thanksgiving and we're thankful for that," Simeona
said with a smile.
One by one the plates are boxed up and
loaded into trucks that make deliveries across the west side. Students at one local school also collect
canned goods to distribute.
"It means plenty to my family
because one year ago we were on the beach so we're really grateful to the
organization that came out today and made it possible for all our families here
to have a hot meal," said Noah Miller.
"Every parent wants to see their children
as happy as they can be, so smiles on their faces and loud cheering is great
for us – we're excited," Miller added.
An estimated 2,000 people were served
a hot Thanksgiving meal – an effort organizers say is only possible through
generous community donations.