HAMLET — About 100 of Richmond County’s senior veterans and their spouses were treated to a lunch at Cole Auditorium on Thursday.
Several of the vets who came out for the free food wore caps, T-shirts or polo shirts branding the branch of military or war — or in some cases, both — in which they served.
When Richmond County Aging Services Director Jacqueline Welch asked how many of the veterans served during World War II, three of them raised their hands.
The event has been organized by Aging Services for the past three years, Welch told the crowd.
After signing in in the hallway and walking through the doors, veterans could stop by booths with representatives from the VFW and American Legion.
A table near the left wall was lined with dishes prepared by members of AMVETS Post 316 in Rockingham.
Sam Standridge said he had been prepping for two days and started cooking at 4:30 a.m., finishing three hours later.
The meal comprised: broiled chicken (the poultry donated by Perdue Foods); stew beef and rice; squash casserole; cucumber salad; steamed cabbage; watermelon (donated by the Berry Patch); cakes (donated by #1 Diner and Helen Shaw of Hamlet); and ice cream.
Seaboard Station in Hamlet also provided condiments, cutlery, plates, rolls and tea.
Volunteers from Community Home Care and Hospice helped serve up the food; and Sgt. Trey Gainey of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division also lent a helping hand.
Prior to the meal, AMVETS member Dennis Holloway encouraged seniors to stay active.
“When you retire, it doesn’t mean you stop doing everything,” he said. “Do something that makes you happy. If you can find something that helps someone else, you’ll be doubly blessed.”
Holloway recounted his own boredom when he retired as a wildlife officer. However, he soon found purpose working with N.C. Baptist Men to build a wheelchair ramp.
The first ramp was for a man with a wheelchair-bound daughter. Hollway said the father used to carry her from the car to inside their home — and that she was bigger than him.
“It felt so good helping someone in need,” he said. Now the group builds 50-60 ramps per year.
Also before the meal, Lacy Shepherd led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance and Charlie Tyler, AMVETS chaplain, gave the invocation.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]