By Michele Dotson  dotson.michele@minthilltimescom

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 11.08.52 PMAt 8:30 am on Saturday, December 7, about 50 volunteers converged on Independence High School to prepare for the annual senior citizen Christmas lunch.

In just under two hours, 600 gift bags were prepared, 600 places were set for lunch, tables were decorated, food brought in, drinks prepared and prizes displayed.

Just before the opening remarks by emcee meteorologist Larry Sprinkle, organizer Mike Cochrane pulled some young volunteers aside for a little pep talk.

“Thank you all for coming out today,” says Cochrane. “There’s nothing better than giving of yourselves, your time and effort.”

Cochrane, who has spearheaded the annual party for seniors for the past 20 years, is currently the Mint Hill Lions Club member with the longest standing active membership. He wanted young people to understand the importance of doing for others.

“It’s nice to do something for somebody else, it’s good for them, but it’s good for you, too,” he says.  You’ll get back far more than you’ll ever give.”

Special recognition was given to the oldest participant, WW II and Korean War veterans, and to the person who came closest to guessing the number M & M’s in a glass jar filled with over 4,000 pieces of candy.

Volunteers from the Independence Leo Club, and Dream Team partnered with Boy Scout Troop 198 from St. Luke’s Catholic Church and the reigning Mint Hill pageant court, including Miss Mint Hill, Courtney Cosby;  Miss Teen Mint Hill, Lexi Moore; Young Miss, Reagan McCoy; and  Little Miss Mint Hill, Kaly Vaughn to set up, pass out prizes, and clean up.

Seniors enjoyed a visit from Santa, a comedy routine from Scott Francis, and a sing-along by Dennis the Menace cartoonist Marcus Hamilton, along with a hot and delicious holiday meal with all the trimmings.