Hundreds of local seniors enjoy pre-Thanksgiving meal in downtown Aiken
Hundreds local seniors gathered Thursday at the Smith-Hazel Recreation Center for the annual Senior Citizens Thanksgiving Dinner.
The event, which has been held for more than 30 years, is hosted by the Palmetto State Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Lt. Donald Butler, who is retired from the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said when the event first started in 1985 there were only about 50 people who showed up.
“This is a pleasure to do because seniors deserve recognition, and it’s important that they know how much they mean to this community,” Butler said.
On Thursday, well over 200 people filled the gymnasium to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal.
“Today’s turnout was great,” said Tara Holman, coordinator for the event.
The food was all donated from different restaurants around Aiken, said Rick Brown, committee member and retired officer with Aiken Public Safety.
Local law enforcement officers and community service organizations, including Aiken Public Safely, the Aiken County Sheriff’s Department, the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division, the Unified Riders Motorcycle Club and the Atomic Dogs Motorcycle Club helped to serve the food.
“It’s so wonderful to be able to come out and see so many seniors enjoying a great meal like this together,” said Clara Waters, 77. “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, because it’s the one where many members of my family come see me. So, it’s fun to have a day before Thanksgiving with other seniors like me.”
There were several speakers prior to the meal being served Thursday, which included Meteorologist Jay Jefferies, who gave a “special forecast” to the seniors.
“I want you all to remember this, if you remember nothing else, to do unto others as you want them to do unto you,” Jefferies said. “This world we live in is messed up today. More messed up than it’s ever been. You know when we say that it ain’t like it was in the good old days – I think it’s time to bring back those good old days.”
The Palmetto State Law Enforcement Officers Association is an organization of African-American officers and seeks to unify communities, promote law enforcement as a profession, encourage public and private cooperation, build community relationships by educating people, attract criminal justice students from around the state, offer scholarship money for first-year criminal justice students and hold community events such as the Thanksgiving dinner.