From left, Roxann Scott, Valerie Moore, Melissa Amaro and Carol Brand package the Christmas dinners at the DAV on Dec. 19.
Caitie Ihrig| El Defensor Chieftain photos

Instead of gathering in the backyard at the DAV to enjoy Christmas dinner, recipients pulled up to the building in their car to place their order and then volunteers carried it out to them.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, people were unable to gather at the DAV to enjoy their meal and to socialize with others.

Peter Romero of the DAV said it was definitely different this year, but it still felt good to give back to the community.

“It’s a different process,” he said. “We are accustomed to having people sit down and waiting on them and serving them their food. Just as a drive through, we process their plates inside, walk them outside to their car, give them their food and wish them well and wish them a Merry Christmas and for a better year this next year.”

Romero said that the dinner was slow at first, but soon the rush started and the DAV ran out of food by 3:30 p.m. The dinner included turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn and chile.

Tanya Goret hands someone their Christmas dinner in their car. The dinner was a drive through due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the dinner was free, the DAV asked people to donate $1 if they were able to. Romero said that $200 was raised and will be donated to two local businesses.

“We are helping somebody else here and if we get the donations, it goes to another organization to help people later on,” he said. “Sometimes, like this year, we really haven’t gotten the money in. We have been closed for nine months. We don’t have the money to put on an event like we want to put on.”

This year, due to it being a drive-through event, Romero said that they utilized a fourth of the volunteers that they usually do for the dinner.

There was a wide range in volunteers as some have been volunteering for decades and for others, this was their first year.

Roxann Scott was a first-year volunteer for the Christmas dinner as she just joined the DAV this year. She also runs the Forget Me Not thrift store and has previously helped with the auxiliary. Scott said that she wanted to help with the Christmas dinner because it’s a way to give back even more to the community.

“It serves our community and our community is really needing it at this time,” she said.

Carol Brand, who has volunteered with the DAV for 13 years, said that she enjoys volunteering for the Christmas dinner because of the sense of community that the event brings.

“It’s kind of sad with COVID-19 going on that we have to be separated because in years past, we would have a full room of people and it was very joyous,” she said. “To see the look on people’s faces when they come through the line and their smiles is very nice.”