Sierra del Mar serves others on Christmas

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders helps serve Christmas dinner at Golden Hall.

For 22 years The Salvation Army Sierra del Mar Division has served others through its community Christmas dinner to lonely seniors, families, the homeless––those without a place to be on Christmas morning. This year, 1,450 people enjoyed a traditional Christmas meal of roast turkey and all the trimmings at Golden Hall. The division salutes Mary Ruth Hansen, who has been the faithful organizer of both the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for many years, volunteering hundreds of hours in addition to her regular duties as divisional human resources director.

An army of 400 volunteers, including newly elected Mayor Jerry Sanders and County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, assisted The Salvation Army in serving the community residents. In addition, the Army gave toys to every child in attendance and fresh fruit to all of the families as they left Golden Hall. Sanders was pleased to make good on his campaign promise to “serve the people of San Diego” in this very practical and compassionate way.

Heather Prout, a victim of the tragic Katrina disaster, now resides in San Diego and wanted to do something at this special time of the year to “give back” to the community and those who so generously extended a helping hand to her. She signed up for the Army’s annual Golden Hall Christmas dinner, not as a recipient, but as a volunteer, and gave over her entire day to serving others. Even though her life was recently turned upside down, her desire for this Christmas Day was to do the most good by serving those less fortunate than she.

Don McNaught has been homeless and wheelchair bound for some 20 years. When he sat down at The Salvation Army Community Christmas dinner, he was thrilled to find that someone had placed a twenty dollar bill in the personal letter at his place. Everyone gets a letter signed by a donor, but his was extra special in that it contained some much needed cash from an anonymous donor. He said, “I know just what I’m gonna do with this money too. I want to buy some peanut butter and razor blades with it.” He currently lives in a doorway on C Street in downtown San Diego.

––Stories and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Sierra Del Mar Secretary for Business Major Edward Loomis

Elise Ness volunteered for the first time this year at the Golden Hall Christmas dinner in San Diego. After serving the guests, she approached Major Edward Loomis during the cleanup and asked if he was the Ed Loomis who had attended her great grandfather’s memorial service a few years earlier. She explained that George Stebbins, Sr. was her great grandfather and his example had instilled in her the passion to serve others, stating “This is something I had to do because of the influence my great grandfather had on my life many years before.”

Major Loomis replied that he had, indeed, attended the memorial service and her great grandfather had been his very first Corps Sergeant Major when Ed was just a boy of seven attending the San Diego Temple Corps. He concurred that his own passion for service had also been greatly influenced by the life of this stalwart Salvationist, CSM George Stebbins, Sr., and it had been his personal honor to be a part of George’s memorial service.

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