Thanksgiving across the territory

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See what the divisions are doing this Thanksgiving

Volunteers prepare to serve pumkin pie to 1,800 guests at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu [Photo by Daniel de Castro].

Many people who have journeyed north to experience life in “the Last Frontier” come without extended family, which could make the holidays lonely unless they come to volunteer at the Army. Whether families, church groups, military personnel or someone just looking to share their holiday with others, more than 150 volunteers join with The Salvation Army every year to feed the community at Thanksgiving. They are living examples of the scripture found in Acts 20:35, that “it is more blessed to give, than to receive.”

Each Thanksgiving morning begins early, with volunteers arriving just after 8 a.m. to help package hot meals to be delivered to homebound seniors. Usually by 9 a.m. the dining room at The Salvation Army McKinnell House is bustling with activity. From the youngest volunteer (who last year was three) to the oldest, everyone is assigned a task and the meals are quickly placed into thermal chests, and loaded with hot bricks to keep the food warm, especially when the temperature outside is around 10 degrees. While the meals are being packed for seniors, the kitchen crew packs the remaining food for Anchorage’s community dinner, where more than 300 guests will be welcomed to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast.
Jenni Ragland

For over 130 years, The Salvation Army has served and participated in the holiday season in Portland.

This year, a number of holiday events are underway. The Lamb’s Thriftway Food Box Program allows local residents to purchase a food box that will feed a family of four for just $25 at the checkout stands of Lamb’s Thriftway stores; last year the program supplied 1,250 food boxes. The annual Fred Bear Toy Drive is collecting toys for children in need. The Harbor Light Center is hosting a Blanket Drive. The Army will be represented in the annual Macy’s Parade in downtown Portland on Nov. 28. Radio host Bob Miller is holding his annual Operation Santa Claus KPAM Radiothon for the Army’s Home Front Relief Program. Broadcasting live, KXL will host the “Lars-a-thon,” a day of radio fundraising for the local programs of The Salvation Army. Lars Larson will host his radio show from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., at McCormick and Schmicks, encouraging listeners to come fill the kettle. The downtown chapter of the Rotary will ring bells to help raise funds, as they have done since the 1950s.

Thanksgiving dinners are scheduled to take place at Gresham Corps, Moore Street Corps, Portland Tabernacle Corps, Tualatin Valley Citadel Corps, and the Rose Center.

The Chico, Calif., Corps will hold a “Bowling for Turkeys” event sponsored by KNVN television. Advisory board members helped buy the turkeys$2,000 worth. Over 200 turkeys have already been purchased and delivered to the corps. Raley’s set up bails of hay to create a makeshift bowling ally where, for the first time, Captain Darren Stratton, the Chico Advisory Board and a member of the media will bowl with the turkeys as a way to raise awareness of the increased need this season. Afterwards, the turkeys were distributed and a dinner for 300 people will be served on Thanksgiving Day.

In Sacramento, Calif., the Army received 200 20-lb. frozen turkeys from California State Automobile Association of Northern California (AAA), for the 12th consecutive year. The turkeys will be prepared and served for a Thanksgiving meal at the Center of Hope facility anyone from the Sacramento community is welcome at the meal.

“Once again, AAA has assisted us with our Thanksgiving meal,” said Major Douglas Riley, divisional commander of the Del Oro Division. “They’re a major reason why we’ve been able to feed hundreds of individuals every Thanksgiving. We appreciate their continuous generosity and support for this community.”

The North B Street Sacramento, Calif., shelter will serve a free Thanksgiving feast to over 1,500 residents. The daycare program at the Ray Robinson Oak Park Community Center will send care boxes to troops in Iraq.

The Hayward Corps will serve a traditional meal to over 1,000 people.

The Auburn Corps will serve a Thanksgiving meal to over 2,000 people.

Stefanie Segur

Salvation Army officers across the Golden State Division have been preparing to serve thousands of Thanksgiving meals.

In San Francisco, the Harbor Light Center will hold its annual Thanksgiving meal delivery program, which provides 3,500 traditional holiday meals to homebound seniors and shut-ins living in the city. The turkey donated by the California State Automobile Associationis prepared by more than 40 volunteers from the San Francisco Fire and Police Departments.

Cheesecake Factory restaurant employees will be taking over the ARC kitchen and dining room to provide 450 Thanksgiving meals for ARC beneficiaries and their families, as well as residents from the Harbor Light and Silvercrest facilities. The Asian American Yerba Buena Corps will provide professional photographers to take photos of the beneficiaries and their families as a memento.

In Modesto, Calif., the corps will host a dinner called “Thanks4Giving,” serving the more than 2,000 needy and homeless people in the area. The corps will provide coffee, doughnuts and games from around 9 a.m. to noon, when the guests sit-down to a full Thanksgiving dinner. The corps will also offer use of mobile phones to allow people to call family anywhere in the U.S. Family photos will also be taken and given to attendees. Major Darvin Carpenter said they are expecting a 15-20 percent increase in people this year.

In addition, Modesto’s homeless shelter is open on Thanksgiving and will provide a full Thanksgiving dinner to those staying in the shelterabout 120-130 people.

And at the far reaches of the division in Bakersfield, a 20-year tradition of deep-frying turkeys continues. The Bakersfield Temple Corps, as the lead, and the Bakersfield Corps provide a sit-down dinner. During the past seven years, the First Christian Church has provided the large kitchen and dinning room space, where 900 individuals are served. The Southern Baptist Convention Relief Team will have cooked over 100 turkeys by 10 a.m. The food is cooked and served by over 175 community volunteers consisting of families, individuals and other church groups.

“This community partnership of time, talent and money, allows other community members to decorate and set up the fellowship hall, rise at dawn to prepare the food, serve our guests at the table, spend time visiting with those seeking conversation and then do the massive clean-up,” said Major Daniel Abella in Bakersfield. “You can only imagine all the warmth and love between the servers and those they serve. It is very difficult at the end of the day, to determine who is most blessed.”
Jennifer Byrd

From Hanapepe to Honolulu to Hilo, more than 7,000 meals will be served on Thanksgiving Day at various Salvation Army corps locations on all the Islands of Hawaii. This year marks the 38th anniversary of what has become the largest annual Thanksgiving dinner celebration in Honolulu, held this year at the Neal Blaisdell Center. Men, women and children, the elderly, the lonely and the hungry are all welcome; no one is turned away. The annual event is made possible through in-kind and monetary contributions from dozens of restaurants, hotels, food distributors, florists, and many businesses in the community.

Approximately 800 volunteers representing civic clubs, schools, businesses, the military, and many families are expected to help at the event as decorators, food helpers, servers, crowd control, preparation and clean-up crews. Prior to the event, many volunteers will spend time making favors, telephoning and coordinating donations, picking up food and flowers and performing other preparation tasks. A host of entertainers including well-known artists and hula halau volunteer their time to provide musical entertainment during the event.
Daniel DeCastro

As the use of credit and debit cards has become the norm for holiday shoppers, this year The Salvation Army will accept credit card donations in their kettles at four locations in Colorado Springs.

The bell ringers at these locations will have handheld credit card machines to process donations. The Salvation Army has partnered with U.S. Bank to ensure totally secure transactions through their bank.

“People out shopping are just not using cash as much anymore, and carry cash less and less,” said Major Don Gilger, El Paso County coordinator. “This will give donors an opportunity to donate in a new and convenient way. It’s a secure transaction. It’s recorded. It’s receipted. It’s verifiable.”

Red kettles hit the streets all over El Paso County on November 12.

From the website for The Salvation Army in Colorado Springs/El Paso County,

Thousands of people will be helped during the holiday season throughout the Northwest Division. In Seattle, the police chief has served needy families at Thanksgiving for many years. Alongside him, Seattle Seahawks Coach Mike Holmgren has made visits to share in the holiday spirit. This year, Holmgren will be in Texas where his team will play the Cowboys. The nationally televised game will mark The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign kick-off, with help from the popular band the Jonas Brothers.

Elsewhere in the division, The Salvation Army’s mission comes full circle at Thanksgiving. In Bremerton, more than 200 people will enjoy a meal served by Richard LeMieux, author of the memoir Breakfast At Sally’s. Once homeless himself, Richard turned to the Army to help regain his own life. Now Richard gives back to those who gave to him.

LeMieux will also join others in Seattle at the annual Celebrity Bell Ringing event. Dubbed as one of the division’s most fun events, some of this year’s attendees include: American Idol finalist Blake Lewis, Seahawks Coach Mike Holmgren, Retired Seahawk player Mack Strong, Seattle Mariners’ Team Mascot ‘The Moose,’ University of Washington Head Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar, local television news reporters and radio personalities.

As always, it’s the time of year when clients turn to The Salvation Army the most, and through the Toy ‘N’ Joy program, utility assistance, meals served and money raised through kettles, the Army continues to help others in need.
Stacy Howard

The San Bernardino Corps will serve Thanksgiving dinner to 700-900 people. The United Way, city and county officials, and school districts donated 20 hams. The Inland Empire Job Corps provided 100 pumpkin pies.

An estimated 125 volunteers will help prepare food and serve the hundreds of people that walk into the doors.

“Thanksgiving should be a special day for everyone not just for those who can afford it,” says Corps Officer Captain Stephen Ball.

In Cathedral City, Captain Jessica Doria said the corps plans to feed a traditional meal to 350 people, prepared by the chef at the Westin Mission Hills Resort. Volunteers from the corps will serve the meal and deliver food to home bound seniors and the homeless. A dance group and live band will provide entertainment.

In Riverside, Major Rick Peacock said the corps is planning on feeding more people than ever this year because of the economy1,000 people. A homeless man from the area has agreed to be the pianist and provide entertainment for the evening.

In San Diego, The Salvation Army hosts an annual Thanksgiving meal for 2,500 people at the Golden Hall in downtown San Diego. Corps including San Diego Citadel, Centre City Corps, Ray and Joan Kroc Corps, and El Cahon Corps participate in the event and greet people throughout the evening. The Central Kitchen, which normally provides senior nutrition meals for home bound individuals, will prepare the Thanksgiving feast and the San Diego Citadel band will provide music.

Corps and programs throughout the Southern California Division will host a variety of Thanksgiving week events to deliver a hot, healthy, and traditional meal to more than 5,000 homeless, sheltered, and working poor men, women and children.

Army officers, staff and volunteers will serve dinner or supply much needed boxes of food to clients. On Thanksgiving Eve, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, and other celebrities and city officials will join Divisional Commander Major Victor Leslie in providing a hot Thanksgiving meal to 1,000 people as radio station MyFM broadcasts live from the event at John Leichty Middle School in downtown Los Angeles.

On Thanksgiving Day, The Cheesecake Factory will provide a traditional holiday feast for the residents and their guests at Bell Shelter.
Robert Brennan

In Phoenix, The Salvation Army and 3TV are teaming up with the Phoenix Suns basketball team to present the 15h Annual Big Guy Turkey Drive on Nov. 20 as the Suns take on the L.A. Lakers.

Fans can bring a frozen turkeyor a cash donationto the game; proceeds will help The Salvation Army provide Thanksgiving dinners to those in need.

From the Southwest Division’s website,

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