More than 100 AT&T employees, retirees and their
relatives volunteered as drivers and cooks for Meals on Wheels on Sunday. Retiree
Larry Bradford of Eau Claire is among those who have volunteered to deliver holiday
dinners for almost 30 years.
As Dennis Dokkestul’s pickup pulls up to a home on
Eau Claire’s north side, insulated black bags protect his precious holiday cargo
from the elements.
Curtains part to reveal a face peeking out of the house, curious about the activity
in the driveway.
Dokkestul slides out of the driver’s seat with his three kids, Brady, 12, Bryxen,
11, and Madysen, 6, following him from the back seat.
As the party approaches the front door — bearing one of the 18 hot meals from the
truck’s cargo bed — the elderly woman living at the home opens the front door and a
smile immediately spreads across her face.
On Christmas Eve, the Dokkestuls and other families of AT&T employees and retirees
delivered 287 meals to homebound people in Eau Claire County.
“It’s a very nice thing,” said Herman Genrich after accepting meals from the
Dokkestuls. “It’s in the spirit.”
Volunteers have delivered meals to his house on the north side of Eau Claire for
several years, Genrich recalled.
“I’m not much of a cook, so it really helps me,” he said.
At Hope Lutheran Church, 2226 Eddy Lane, Judy Schwoch marshals her troops as an
assembly line behind her fills the small metal trays with piping hot food and hands
them to her for distribution to drivers.
“This is part of Christmas,” she said.
For the past 29 years, Schwoch has coordinated the event for AT&T Telephone
Pioneers, a volunteer group of former and current AT&T workers with their families
and friends. It’s an around-the-clock effort to make the meals from scratch.
On Saturday, the food was brought to the church, dressing was prepared and a row of
electric roasters began cooking the turkeys. Schwoch’s husband, Loren, even went to
the church at 2 a.m. Sunday to check on the birds.
Drivers, including Schwoch’s son-in-law, Dennis Dokkestul, began their routes at
10:30 a.m. Sunday.
The Dokkestuls got an 18-meal route that criss-crossed Starr Avenue on the city’s
“There are a lot of ‘God bless yous’ around here,” Brady said.
Dennis Dokkestul and his sons wore navy blue volunteer T-shirts, while Madysen
donned her baby blue coat in Sunday’s weather hovering around the freezing point.
Brady remembers people who started crying when they saw visitors, especially
children, and gave his siblings and him hugs and kisses.
“It’s just amazing how joyful they are when we come,” he said.
Others have invited the family in for cookies and a quick visit before heading to
the next house. On Sunday, the Dokkestuls received a grocery bag half full of
popcorn at their last stop.
Along with the dinner consisting of turkey, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes and
green beans, people got milk, homemade cookies, bread and a bag of toiletries.
Money for Sunday’s meals came from Thrivent Financial, AT&T and private donations
from individual Telephone Pioneers volunteers.
The AT&T volunteers provide relief on Christmas Eve for the many others that deliver
year-round for Meals on Wheels.
Dowd can be reached at 833-9204, (800) 236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.