On Thursday, Felix Dominguez will make his way across town to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, park his wheelchair, grab some crutches and find a young volunteer. He will ask that volunteer to find another, then climb behind the wheel of a utility cart and tell them, “Load me up!”

This Thanksgiving will mark the 38th consecutive year “Ice Man” Dominguez has volunteered at the annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, making him the longest tenured volunteer in the event’s history. The dinner is a San Antonio tradition that dates to 1979 and now feeds up to 25,000 seniors in a single day.

“I’ll keep doing it as long as God gives me the will,” said the 74-year-old they call “Ice Man,” for the treks he makes to supply beverage stations with bags of ice during the event. He said it was the need he saw in the community that drove him to volunteer in the first place. Now he looks forward to it every year.

With his parents deceased and siblings busy with extended families, the downtown resident finds in the annual event not only a place to serve others, but also a delicious meal and a good time. His favorites are the turkey, dressing, and pie. “I could eat four plates,” he said.

Felix Dominguez outside of his apartments in downtown San Antonio.
Felix Dominguez outside of his apartment in downtown San Antonio. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

More than 4,000 volunteers aged 8 and older are expected for this year’s Jimenez dinner. Registration for volunteers to cook, serve and clean is now closed for this year. But donations to the cause can be made here.

VIA Metropolitan Transit will provide complimentary transportation for senior citizens with a VIA Senior Citizens ID card attending the Jimenez dinner. Guests will be dropped off and picked up at 900 E. Market St.

Here’s a list of other ways you can give your time and support to others in San Antonio this Thanksgiving.

Operation Home Cooking

Another longstanding tradition in San Antonio, Operation Home Cooking is a program that has been matching San Antonio families with airman and trainees at Lackland Air Force Base on Thanksgiving for 42 years.

Last year, local residents hosted 3,600 service members and provided a homecooked meal for troops far from hearth & home on Thanksgiving. To learn more or volunteer, call 210-671-5453.

Meals on Wheels San Antonio

The kitchen at Meals on Wheels will start humming at 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving in preparation to serve 2,000 people throughout the city. Though the meal is sponsored by H-E-B, the organization needs both volunteers to deliver meals, starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, and donors who can sponsor a route to ensure its elderly clients receive a meal.

Haven for Hope

Every resident at Haven for Hope will receive a traditional Thanksgiving meal due to the generosity of USAA, the San Antonio Food Bank. and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. And though USAA employees will be serving the noon-time meal, volunteers are needed to help serve breakfast and dinner that day. Sign up by contacting the Food Bank or the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

San Antonio AIDS Foundation

Volunteers will serve Thanksgiving meals to all San Antonio Aids Foundation clients on Thursday, according to spokesperson Ken Slavin. Serving and food is covered.

What is still needed now and throughout the holidays are donations of basic items their HIV/AIDS clients need: blankets, towels, toiletries, backpacks, small duffel bags, socks, cold weather gear and T-shirts. Drop donations at their facility, 818 E. Grayson St., with a note for the director of client services.

San Antonio Food Bank Great Turkey Challenge

Sign up for the Great Turkey Challenge 5K that starts Thanksgiving morning, and a portion of your registration fees will help the San Antonio Food Bank provide turkey dinners to families in need. Event registration starts at 6:30 a.m. and the run at 8:30 a.m.

In addition to the chip-timed run, there’s an early-morning stroll and a pet-friendly event. It is billed as one of the few races the City permits in the King William neighborhood and along the River Walk.

Volunteers form an assembly line portioning food to individual plates to be served.
Volunteers form assembly lines to plate dinners for hungry guests during the 37th annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in 2016. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Disaster Relief and Sutherland Springs

This year’s tragic events have brought suffering in many communities throughout Texas – from massive hurricane damage and flooding in August and September, to the shooting massacre in Sutherland Springs Nov. 5.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross serving Greater San Antonio have been assisting victims of both tragedies, and help families displaced by home fires all year round. You can donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief here or become a Red Cross volunteer here.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center needs blood donors, especially O-positive and O-negative types. Click here for more information.

H-E-B is continuing to accept monetary donations at store checkout and online in its Helping Here campaign for the shooting victims and their families.

#GivingTuesday

Some area nonprofits will be promoting Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, as a way to increase awareness and raise funds for those in need in our community as we approach the holiday season.

“End-of-year giving captures the donor … looking for that tax write-off,” said Scott McAninch, CEO of The Nonprofit Council. “But, it’s also the giving season. We’re in a great mood, and we’re reminded there are folks in need, and we need to remember those folks during the holidays.”

This article was originally published on Nov. 18.

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.