Firefighters prepare meals, give back to community

·4 min read
Debbie Revard of Monroe was so thankful for the Thanksgiving meals she picked up from Mindy Hudson, wife of City of Monroe firefighter paramedic Chad Hudson Wednesday, November 24, 2021. The Monroe Firefighters International Association of Firefighters held its annual dinner as a walk-up or drive-up event at Oaks Village in Monroe.
Debbie Revard of Monroe was so thankful for the Thanksgiving meals she picked up from Mindy Hudson, wife of City of Monroe firefighter paramedic Chad Hudson Wednesday, November 24, 2021. The Monroe Firefighters International Association of Firefighters held its annual dinner as a walk-up or drive-up event at Oaks Village in Monroe.

The City of Monroe's fire department carried on their tradition of serving those in need this Thanksgiving season.

The annual Thanksgiving dinner, which is hosted by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 326, was held Wednesday at Oaks Village.

Alexis Braggs and Christopher Pippens of Monroe picked up three Thanksgiving dinners prepared by the City of Monroe firefighters and paramedics  Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
Alexis Braggs and Christopher Pippens of Monroe picked up three Thanksgiving dinners prepared by the City of Monroe firefighters and paramedics Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Union treasurer and Monroe City fire fighter and paramedic, Chad Hudson, has been in charge of organizing the dinner for the last three years. Hudson said that in the past, fire fighters funded the majority of the dinner themselves. But now local donations cover most of their needs.

“The last three years we’ve had so many donations from businesses in the area and private donors…," Hudson said. “In the past we’ve had to pay for probably half the stuff and now most of it is covered through donations, either monetary or actual items that are donated that we ask for.”

Hudson said the crew starts preparing the turkeys and hams days in advance and prepares all of the sides - like mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, stuffing, and cranberries - the day of the event. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event is no longer held inside. Instead, the crew assembles each meal to be picked up and taken to go.

“The guys look forward to doing their parts in the kitchen and contributing. It’s a lot of work but they really enjoy it,” said Hudson. “In the six years that I’ve worked for this department and that I’ve been a part of this in some way shape or form, we sit right around 1,000 meals (served).”

Hudson said he and his crew are happy to be able to give back to the community that they serve.

“We go on runs in this community a lot obviously, and we see people that are in hard times no matter what year it is…you see people that are really struggling, so it’s nice to be able to give them this,” he said. “This is such a staple in this community that they know that on this day, this meal is here.”

Debbie Revard expressed gratitude as she picked up six meals on Wednesday for herself and other friends.

“This is a godsend…I give a couple (meals) to other senior citizens,” said Revard. “This whole (Oaks) Village is a godsend…all of it.”

City of Monroe Fire Chief Rob Wight, firefighter Daryll Yarger and Nicholas Hudson, son of firefighter Chad Hudson, start plate the Thanksgiving meals which were given out to folks outside at Oaks Village in Monroe Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
City of Monroe Fire Chief Rob Wight, firefighter Daryll Yarger and Nicholas Hudson, son of firefighter Chad Hudson, start plate the Thanksgiving meals which were given out to folks outside at Oaks Village in Monroe Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Daryll Yarger is also a fire fighter and paramedic for the department and is largely responsible for helping to secure donations each year. Yarger, who has sat as a member on the labor council for the last seven years, said the relationships he’s been able to foster within the community have helped with this task. This year, 45 turkeys, 33 hams, 5 cases of stuffing and about 1,200 cookies were donated by various organizations and businesses.

“It's been a blessing having these relationships and I’ve told every donor that we’ve had we can’t do this dinner without them,” Yarger said. “This community dinner is really done by the community and our donors. We just cook it and provide it.”

Firefighter/paramedic Chad Hudson with the help of his wife Mindy Hudson and daughter Josie, 6, wheel out the Thanksgiving dinners to handout at Oaks Village in Monroe Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
Firefighter/paramedic Chad Hudson with the help of his wife Mindy Hudson and daughter Josie, 6, wheel out the Thanksgiving dinners to handout at Oaks Village in Monroe Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
Monroe Firefighter/paramedics Matt Tata and Frank Palumbo put the final touches on the stuffing, which was part of the Thanksgiving meals they provided for pickup at Oaks Village in Monroe Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
Monroe Firefighter/paramedics Matt Tata and Frank Palumbo put the final touches on the stuffing, which was part of the Thanksgiving meals they provided for pickup at Oaks Village in Monroe Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Sherri Iacoangeli is the wife of retired fire fighter Paul Iacoangeli and has been helping with the event for over 20 years. Sherri helps to gather dessert donations from local businesses. She said she looks forward to being able to give back to her community.

“A lot of people don’t know how lucky they are, and I’ve always been lucky, so why not do something for somebody else?" she said. "I just like doing it for the community, and to me, if it’s something that you like to do, its not work."

One of the Thanksgiving meals prepared by the Monroe firefighter/paramedics Wednesday.
One of the Thanksgiving meals prepared by the Monroe firefighter/paramedics Wednesday.

Oaks of Righteousness pastor and founder, Heather Boone, said she looks forward to the firefighters hosting the event at her community church each year. She said it has become a staple that community members rely on, and expressed gratitude for all of the hard work done by the fire department.

International Association of Fire Fighters Local 326 held its annual Thanksgiving dinner in Monroe on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 326 held its annual Thanksgiving dinner in Monroe on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

“I live next door to the firehouse, so I watch them go on runs all day long,” Boone said. “I know how hardworking they are, I saw how hard they worked during COVID… The fact that they give back to the community on top of all that is just amazing.”

The fire department received donations from numerous individuals, businesses and organizations including United Auto Workers Local 723, the Monroe County Education Association, Eddies family restaurant, Merkle Funeral Home, Plumbers and Pipefitters, Gerdau Steel, Amayas Mexican Grill, Lume Cannabis Co., Monica’s Baker Boy, Cakes by Stephanie, Monroe St. Tim Hortons, and Mrs. Fields.

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Firefighters prepare meals, give back to community

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