Hand In Hand Dec 2017

It was a slightly different run than usual – although there were 2 trail rigs in the parking lot – Chris and Ashley’s Xterra and Shawn’s (hope I got you right) Christmas-lit-sparkly TJ in all of its illuminated glory.

As a thanks and a howdy-doo to the club for our contribution to the Hand-In-Hand charity – the folks at HIH had invited Tamers to join them for a holiday dinner. That is – to be served dinner – and not to be put to work – was the original thought. Mary and I got there a little after 6 PM – to find almost no parking spots anywhere to be found. We had the luck to find Dave had shoehorned his Tahoe into a space less than generous – leaving an itty-bitty spot next to it that most folks decided to give up on. Fortunately – Mary and I arrived in her little Fiat – and with her getting out first – I was able to cozy that thing up against Dave’s Tahoe with just enough apace left for me to vertically limbo out of the driver’s door.

I’m sure we looked lost – but exec director Todd saw our colors and smiled and pointed us over to the line flowing out the door – of families with kids of all ages running around and yakking away. And then – it was kinda like the big hole or stuck or broke on the trail – as we appeared to be going nowhere in line. We saw Shawn up a-ways inside the door, but it was kind of tough to move with the crowd so thick – so Mary and I stayed put outside in line.

Maybe 10 minutes later – we see Dave heading our way saying, “They could use some help serving dinner – so come on in.” Even though I had no clue what that meant – I was hip to get in out of the cold, and we entered the dining hall – maybe 50 feet long of room with 4 long rows of tables in it – and adults and kids all over with cups of sparkling cider and plates of turkey, veggies, potatoes with gravy and plates of pumpkin pie throughout.

With the crush of the crowd, the tightness of the room, the noise with folks running plates of food out and others clearing the tables after folks were done – I think pandemonium was the operative word. Alice – the HIH Chief Operations Officer – gave us a few pointers of smiling encouragement – which mainly was for us to help other volunteers serve dinner to the families there, help clean up tables – and basically kindly, gently – but inevitably help them move along so the next group could be seated and get some dinner.

And it didn’t take long to get the rhythm down and make that work. A number of the volunteers were teenagers who have been part of the program at HIH for a number of years. They mainly got the initial drinks and meals in front of folks. Tamers got good at distributing plates of pumpkin pie and cleaning up when folks were done. Dave was at the serving table portioning out turkey first – and then I heard we ran out of that – whereupon the HIH folks went out and were reported to have collected every bit of rotisserie chicken they could get their hands on from the local Fred Meyer.

I didn’t realize Erica was playing the bouncer at the exit door – until I took a full bag of garbage out – and she (with a straight face) told me she couldn’t let me back in. Oh these Tamer’s – they can be cruel ones! My banishment only lasted seconds – then it was another trash bag and more places to prepare for the next group of hungry celebrants.

By my count – there were actually 10 Tamers there – counting everyone. Chris and Ashley and their little one riding shotgun on Ashley’s back. Obviously she was helping by pushing her mom all around. Shawn and his wife (sorry – the eternal Tamer’s conundrum – we know rigs by sight before we know eveeryone’s names by memory), Dave, Erica and son Nathan, Mary and me.

Now – the Casey story – which Casey has explained in detail via one-list email the events which precluded her attendance at the event – made all kinds of sense when relayed in total. However – when I asked Erica where Casey was – the shorthand seemed positively puzzling. “She was late from work, then her dog pee’d on her.”


Nathan kinda became the pie-serving ninja. With the tables and chairs and bodies and trying not to spill stuff on folks in the cramped quarters – and with some of the Tamers being “svelte” and others “not-so-svelte” and space being tight for our labors – Nathan being itty-bitty by comparison – could quickly and surely get pie to folks as if by magic almost. I saw him a number of times running around industriously with a plate of pie in each hand, making sure folks were getting their just desserts……..

Chris and I mainly specialized in trash pickup – and telling bad, but clean – seasonal jokes. Here’s a few.

What instructions did the doctor have for the Gingerbread Man with a sore knee?
“Ice it!”

Or – holiday baking instructions from a group known as the Neglectful Organization of Edible Lethargy (or “NOEL”). “If the recipe is ‘microwave it’ – then yes – I DO want the recipe!”

Finally – by 8PM – the line had dwindled to a trickle, and Alice invited us to sit, and God bless her – she served us some dinner. I have to tell you – I was far more comfortable working first given there was a crowd of folks to be fed, and then eating later only after the crowd had been cared for.

An aside was that plates of dinner showed up – but initially no pie. Except Nathan. He had his pie. We asked him – “Hey Nathan – where’s the pie?” And he smiled in smug self-satisfaction and just replied, “I got mine!” Alice got us fixed up on that too.

After dinner – Alice took us on a little tour of the facility and recounted the services they provide. I think their website can do a better job of telling you more about that than I can – so if you want to know more about this worthy local grass-roots organization we are supporting – go to www.handinhandkids.org – and you can read all about it.

I found out later from Alice – she debated within herself whether she should ask for our help right away. I think she was concerned we’d find that rude or forward or something. Ha! She doesn’t know us very well – does she?!? Working and helping out is what we do.

I did mention to her – as an off-road club – we might have times we could offer rides to kids – if there was some way to appropriately do that as an organized group event for them. She said with some of the older kids – they DO have adventure outings. They’ve done group events like museum visits, rock climbing and things like that that are organized events with selected kids. She said she’d mention that to the exec director Todd. She thought they be excited to add a day in a seat in a rig as another adventure outing. So I guess we’ll see where that goes.

Anyway – it was a fun evening – and it’s an organization doing really good work for children and families who could use a helping hand. Now that I’m getting to know then a little better – I’m glad we put our support to this group – and I like to see us keep the relationship going.

Thanks for reading!
And keep on serving and wheeling!