Jackie Rey’s and Salvation Army team up again to deliver Thanksgiving meals to elderly
For more than a decade, Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill in Kona has partnered with the Salvation Army Kona Corps to provide Thanksgiving meals to people in need in the community.
The tradition continues today. The restaurant, with help from volunteers and Salvation Army, is delivering 500 to 600 meals to the elderly and shut-ins.
“We have people who don’t have families anymore but the tradition is still there,” said Capt. Raghel Santiago with the Salvation Army. “We want to make sure we give people the tradition of having a meal on Thanksgiving day, and also to give back to those need.”
Paul Streiter, owner of Jackie Rey’s, said they’ve been making the Thanksgiving dinners for 15 years. They started prepping this year’s meals on Wednesday.
Fifteen volunteers helped with tasks like peeling potatoes and carrots at the restaurant. Community members also donated 30 to 40 turkeys for the meals.
Volunteers started working on the meals at 5 a.m. The meals of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots and corn are plated at 8 a.m. and deliveries are out by 8:30 a.m. Streiter said the to-go window at the restaurant will be open for pickup.
“It’s a lot of work, but a good time,” Streiter said.
The restaurant closes at around noon and they reopen for their dinner hour at around 4 p.m.
The restaurant used to serve a Thanksgiving lunch — buffet style — prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Despite the health crisis, Jackie Rey’s didn’t miss a step in finding a way to provide a meal to those in need. Santiago said in 2020 they made grab-and-go meals and for the past two years they’ve done food deliveries.
Streiter said this year has been great because there is a little less fear surrounding the event due to the decrease in COVID cases. Volunteers seem to be less anxious about social distancing.
“I’m grateful things are getting back to normal slightly,” he said.
Santiago hopes the restaurant will be able to do luncheons again someday as the gatherings provide a sense of fellowship where people who didn’t know each other could come together and share a meal.
“One of the best things I love about it [Thanksgiving dinner] is tradition,” Santiago said. “Even though things are different, traditions should not fade away. I’m happy we’re keeping tradition somehow.”
The Salvation Army will be providing more than 6,000 Thanksgiving holiday meals through annual meal and food outreach events at locations statewide. The Salvation Army Honoka‘a Corps will also be doing meal delivers in North Hawai‘i with the help of local community partners and volunteers.
“We are grateful for the generous help of corporate partners, volunteers, advisory boards, staff and Salvation Army officers for organizing our annual Thanksgiving events in Hawai‘i,” said Maj. Phil Lum, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands.