Della Fort was enjoying a home-cooked holiday meal – ham, turkey, spaghetti, green beans, sweet potatoes, and collard greens – at one of the picnic tables in James McClatchy Park on Sunday.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing for people who also have family or homeless to come here and eat,” said Fort, who lives nearby. “I wish everyone would do this and pay it forward.”
Fort, her 7-year-old son, Makiah Ewing, and 8-year-old nephew, Samaiya Barron, had dropped by the park Sunday after church to participate in the second annual “Christmas In the Park” – a community feed put together by a number of motorcycle clubs in Sacramento.
The event is the brainchild of Monique Webb of Sacramento, president of the Mo’Better Stunnas, a motorcycle club she started last year.
“There are so many people who just need a hot meal,” said Webb, who goes by the moniker “Mo’ Diddley.” “We know what it’s like to be hungry, so once I was able, I started giving.”
Last year, she got together with 17 other Sacramento MC’s (motorcycle clubs) and SMC’s (social motorcycle clubs in which the women members do not necessarily ride) to feed the homeless at McClatchy Park.
“We had about 100 people, and they (the hungry) had bags and stuff (to wear) – they were prepared for the rain last year,” she recalled.
This year, Webb was more ambitious, contacting 30 clubs in Sacramento and hoping to feed about 300 people.
By early afternoon, about 50 people from 20 clubs had shown up with foil-covered pans of ham, turkey, hot wings, stuffing, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, salad, green bean casserole and collard greens. Rolls and cornbread were also provided, along with cranberry sauce.
Cases of water, tea and chocolate-flavored coconut water were stacked for the drinks station, and the dessert table was piled with cakes, cupcakes, cookies, doughnut holes, and the most popular, Hostess Twinkies and cupcakes.
Most of the motorcycle club members were easily identified by their jackets, which bore names like Breakin Bread, Sophistikated Souljas, Head Woman in Charge, Second II None, Valley Diamonds and Showstoppaz.
Many echoed the sentiments of Yolanda “Boss Lady” Brown president of Sacramento Game Ready SMC, who said it was important for motorcycle clubs to participate and contribute to charitable events to change public perception.
“We’re not outlaws,” she said. “Many of us give back to the community and help the less fortunate. We also support other organizations and clubs as well.”
All the main entrees and side dishes were homemade by members of the different clubs, although the drinks and half of the desserts were store-bought.
S. “Big T” Taylor, president of the Boss Family Rydas MC, decided to prepare one of his motorcycle club’s contributions – fried turkey – on site. He had brined a 19-pound turkey overnight Saturday and brought a deep fryer with a propane tank to the park to cook it Sunday.
“It’s best fresh,” said Taylor, who slowly lowered the bird by a hook into the hot oil. “You never have to worry about dry turkey. You don’t need any gravy – it’s just so juicy.”
While several members of the Boss Family Rydas kept watch on the deep fryer, others dropped off the pans of macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes and party wings at the serving tables.
Tiffani “Mizz Tiff” Hagler, president of Drama Free SMC, came to help serve food. “This is about helping the community and the people in need,” she said.
When the time came to serve Taylor’s fried turkey, Hagler volunteered to slice the bird into serving sizes. Donning gloves, she made quick work of stripping all the meat from the bone in a few minutes.
Almost all of the people who lined up for the hearty meal Sunday were either Oak Park residents or lived next to the park.
Scott Wagenknecht, a park neighbor, said there are very few homeless who live at McClatchy Park.
“A lot of people who hang out in the park are people who are strung out on drugs,” he said, adding that residents avoid the park for that reason.
However, he was glad that the motorcycle clubs were holding the event in the park, as it draws the community together.
“It’s very good,” he said of the food. “It helps out people who don’t have very much. The people in the neighborhood are all here.”
Webb said that 270 people were fed Sunday, and that a few homeless persons came for the free meal toward the end of the day.
“A lot of people from the neighborhood asked me if we were just feeding the homeless, and I told them, ‘You just have to be hungry and you can get some food,’” she said. “Next year, we want to fill the whole park. We want to get our people to come out to see what we do for the community.”
HOW TO HELP
If anyone wants to participate or contribute to the “Christmas in the Park” community feed next year, contact Monique Webb at (916) 307-2648 or e-mail her at mobetterhair03@ yahoo.com.