AUSTIN - The Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans kicked off with their annual turkey fry week with a charity day.
Thirty turkeys will be sent to families at Dell Children's Medical Center, while another 20 turkeys will be given to those at SAFE Alliance: a shelter dedicated to ending child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
In the parking lot of a South Austin VFW post, stands roughly eight veterans lined up by a massive fryer-- every six minutes, one 14 pound turkey comes out, and another goes in.
"We got it timed to the tee,” volunteer Freddie Garcia said.
It's all done by a handful of Vietnam Veterans, standing over a boiling fryer for more than seven hours.
"We get here at 4 o'clock in the morning. And one year, in particular, we left at midnight,” Garcia said.
He’s been a volunteer since day one of the group's charity efforts. All the turkeys are prepped, cooked, and packaged carefully for delivery.
Secretary of the organization John Miterko said he hopes a Thanksgiving dinner can be something the families can enjoy— experiencing some type of normalcy during difficult times, especially for the children.
"They're away from home. We're trying to make their holidays as close as to being at home as we possibly can," said Miterko.
The group said they’ve also partnered up with Loving Libby as well as SAFE Alliance, and plan to continue their work for them for future events.
"Maybe we'll give them one nice thing that will happen over the holidays. That's what keeps us going,” Miterko added.
The group of vets also visited Kerville, Texas over the weekend to help fry birds for disabled veterans at the local hospital, totaling more than 80 turkeys by the end of the holiday week.
However, the annual fry does more than feed families, the event also keeps the bond between brothers and sisters strong.
"We used to have many more members showing up but age, infirmity, a number of our members have passed away,” Miterko said. “But what we tried to do, and you watched through the entire process, everybody gets into a job that they are comfortable with."
From preparing the turkeys -- to the marinating them with molasses, butter, and creole seasoning -- keeping time and cooking -- there's a rhythm.
"Everybody has a specialty,” Miterko said.
Veterans taking care of the community-- and each other.
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