The senior center was buzzing with activity when the Happy Helpers arrived. The Easter luncheon was one of the big events held at the senior center every year. Mrs. Snow was there, directing the volunteers. When she spotted the girls, she waved them over to where she was.
“We have to get these favors on the tables at each place.” She handed a boxful to each girl. They were tiny straw hats decorated with flowers and birds attached to tiny hat racks with even more flowers and birds.
“These are really cute,” Melissa said. “The ladies at our church made them.”
“That’s right,” Mrs. Snow responded. “They brought them here this morning. Now we need to get them on the tables.”
Amber noticed some of the ladies from the Community Church arranging larger hat decorations in the center of each table. Some other ladies were setting up the buffet tables and placing hat decorations there as well.
“The theme is ‘Hats Off to Spring,’” Mrs. Snow seemed to read Amber’s mind. “Wait until the other seniors start arriving. You’re going to see some crazy hats today.”
The Happy Helpers took their boxes of favors and started putting them out at each place. When they were finished, Mrs. Snow gave them boxes of silverware wrapped in pastel-colored napkins, each tied with a pink, green, or yellow ribbon. Plates had been placed at the beginning of the buffet line, and the glasses were on the beverage table.
“You did a lovely job,” Mrs. Snow said, surveying the room. “I knew my faith in you wasn’t misplaced.”
“Is there anything else we can do?” Laura asked.
“Would you like to be greeters at the door?” Mrs. Snow suggested.
“That sounds like fun,” Melissa said with enthusiasm.
“Yeah,” added Amber. “Then we can check out the crazy hats you mentioned.”
Mrs. Snow positioned the girls at the front door and handed them some programs to give out to each guest. The first couple through the door was Hank and Clarisse Anderson. Clarisse was wearing a fancy red hat with tiny roses and feathers around the brim. When Melissa told her how beautiful it was, Clarisse said that it was called the Titanic.
“It cost about as much as the Titanic,” Hank added. Clarisse shot him a dirty look.
“I see you have your video camera out already,” Amber said. “Are you going to make a movie of the Easter luncheon?”
“I want to catch everyone when they arrive in their hats,” Hank said.
“You have a nice hat,” Laura commented. “It looks like something from the Titanic movie too.” Hank wore a brown felt hat with creases in the front.
“It’s a fedora,” Hank said proudly.
“It’s a Stetson,” Clarisse added. “And it cost as much as mine.”
Gus was the next to arrive. The girls tried not to chuckle when they saw his hat. It was a black visor with black and gray hair sticking out of the top. This was especially funny since the girls knew that Gus had no hair at all underneath the hat.
“Like my hat?” Gus asked.
“It’s really you!” Melissa giggled.
“If there are prizes for the best hats,” Amber added, “you’ll win for sure.”
“Maybe the goofiest,” Melissa whispered to Amber.
Doris Duncan came in using a walker. Her hat was made of straw and was decorated with beautiful fresh flowers. Betty Jenkins wore a gray cowboy hat with a decorative band and black feather.
Once all the seniors were seated in the lunchroom, Mrs. Snow told the Happy Helpers to go to the kitchen. Bob Stone was there getting the food ready. Three Handy Guys were seated at the table, but when the girls came in, they stood up.
“What are you doing?” Amber asked.
“What do you mean?” Spike asked suspiciously. “We’ve been coming here to help before you even knew this place existed.”
“She didn’t mean anything,” Logan defended her. “She just asked what we were doing. We’re going to help serve the food, and then we’re going to help clean up.”
“Okay,” Bob said. “The food’s ready. Everybody grab a dish and take it out to the buffet tables.”
The girls didn’t wait to ask if he meant them. They followed the guys to the waiting dishes and helped move the food to the buffet tables. As soon as the food was set up, Walt Collins walked to the microphone. After welcoming everyone to the luncheon, he called on Pastor Evans from the Community Church to give the blessing. Then he instructed the guests at the first table to begin getting their food. Laura offered to help Doris Duncan since it was difficult to fill her plate while using her walker. Laura carried the plate for Doris as they made their way around the buffet tables.
When all the guests were seated and eating their lunches, Bob told the kids to grab a plate and get some food. Then they could eat in the kitchen. A buzzing sound coming from the lunchroom told Amber that Walt was speaking at the microphone again.
“Maybe they’re giving out the awards for the best hats,” she said.
The kids stood in the open doorway to watch as one by one, guests were called up to receive their awards.
Doris Duncan was awarded the “most decorative.” There was an award for most comical, but it didn’t go to Gus. There were three other men at the luncheon who had hats like his. That award went to a man wearing a pink flying pig hat. It had wings that he could raise and lower using the attached sticks.
“Well, Dave, I said you’d beat me at something when pigs can fly.” Gus laughed. Dave moved the sticks up and down to make the pig flap its wings. The entire lunchroom burst into laughter.
“Most original” went to a lady who had made a hat out of light-green felt. It looked like she was wearing a cabbage on her head. The girls were sure that Clarisse would win the “most stylish” category, but she was outdone by another woman who had a black hat with even more roses and feathers.
As the guests were leaving, the girls began clearing the tables. The Three Handy Guys went into the kitchen to get ready to wash everything as the dishes were being brought in. Chris rinsed the dishes while Spike loaded the dishwasher. Logan helped Bob with the leftover food.
Just as they were finishing, Walt came into the kitchen.
“I want to thank you for all of your help,” he said. “I don’t know what we would have done without you.”
“It was fun,” Amber said, and everyone nodded in agreement.
“I’d like you to have these gift cards,” Walt continued. “It’s the least we can do to say thanks.” With that, he handed each one of them a five-dollar card to McDonald’s.
“Wow,” Spike said. “Thanks a lot. This will come in handy.”
“Thanks,” everyone said.
The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon