Thanksgiving – More than a meal
Attitude of Gratitude
On Thanksgiving Day–and throughout the week–plates were piled high with an abundance of Thanksgiving foods, while hearts and souls were nourished by love and companionship as Salvationists, assisted by scores of volunteers, provided holiday meals to those in need.
The reports that follow provide a small glimpse into the impact The Salvation Army made on lives throughout the West this Thanksgiving season.
Thanksgiving in Phoenix, Southwest Division.
Golden State Division
BY JUDY VAUGHN –
Majors Hector and Gerde Ramos of Gilroy distributed Thanksgiving baskets with a note gently “remembering what it feels like to open the last package of rice on the shelf and during holidays that focus so much on abundance knowing what it is like to have minimal provisions.” A few kernels of corn were included in the message, a reminder of the Pilgrims’ gratefulness to God after a horrible year of want and disease. “Maybe this past year has been like that for you,” the message continued. “Therefore, we would encourage you, before you eat, to take time to say thank you to God and to remember how much God loves you and wants to bless you.” Targeting the homeless and those who are alone, the corps served Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, November 22.
Many Army units distributed traditional food baskets, including: Valley Mission (400 baskets plus dinner on Thanksgiving day); Indian Wells Living Bread Ministries (550 baskets); Hollister (baskets for 25 families in extreme need plus Thanksgiving dinner for the corps family and guests known to be in need); Merced (60 food bags); Visalia (125 families); Tulare (100 families); San Francisco Turk Street (40 turkeys distributed to families plus a corps dinner for 175 soldiers and friends).
Food for Modesto’s formal sit-down meal for 1000 people was donated by Mallard’s Restaurants with the Army serving coffee and hot chocolate from the canteen. In San Francisco, Silvercrest served 200 and honored a 93-year-old volunteer. In Merced, the Army supplied pies and time for the community dinner at the American Legion Hall. San Jose Temple soldiers volunteered at the Santa Clara County Senior Center for serving and clean-up before hosting their own church family dinner. After delivering meals for the Harbor Light program, San Francisco’s Korean Corps hosted Commissioner Peter Chang (R) as guest speaker for both morning and evening services. Santa Clara started serving community dinners at 11:00 a.m. and didn’t stop until after 6:00 p.m.
Fresno Laotian, San Francisco Mission and Yerba Buena Center gave dinners and parties during the holiday week. Bakersfield Corps divided its dinners into separate events for seniors, youth and families. Bakersfield Temple fed 1,600. Turlock partnered with the Harvest Christian Center to serve 400, then did a second dinner with the Assyrian American Civic Club. Kings River served over 500. Santa Cruz went to three locations to deliver 600 meals prepared by the kitchen staff at Camp Redwood Glen. .
Clovis Corps and the Clovis Senior Center gave a community lunch with food donated by Pappy’s Fine Foods. The Covenant Players Gospel Singers performed and the invitation said it all; “All are welcome! Bring your family, friends, grandkids… There’s no reason to be alone!”
BY TANYA WILLIAMS –
With bell-ringers hitting the streets, The Salvation Army let Portland area residents know the holidays had arrived. And, while many enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at home, several Cascade Division programs and corps provided meals and activities for others.
Harbor Light Center for homeless men, women and families served a special meal for more than 350 on Wednesday, Nov. 22 and Rose Center for seniors served Thanksgiving lunches on Nov. 22 and 23. With the help of dedicated volunteers, Moore Street Corps and Community Center served 100 in their homes on Thanksgiving Day.
Finally, the Portland area corps celebrated with a united Thanksgiving service held at Portland Tabernacle the evening of Nov. 19. This community-wide service included songs and prayer, followed by a reception.
Southern California Division
BY KATHY LOVIN –
Thanksgiving in Southern California opened with the first-ever “Sit In For the Hungry” by MEGA 92.3 Radio. The station’s morning team, called the House Party, staged a 24-hour live broadcast and canned food drive at Staples Center to benefit the Army. With the help of listeners all over Los Angeles, they reached their 92,000 can goal in just under 50 hours.
Impact, the South Central Dance Group, and choirs from Harbor Light, Bell Shelter, The Haven and the Pasadena Tabernacle treated more than 800 people–including 119 seekers–to an unforgettable evening of worship at Thanksgiving Praise held downtown at the Los Angeles Central Corps.
The Thanksgiving Eve Celebration brought 2,200 homeless and low-income individuals to the Los Angeles Convention Center for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Three hundred volunteers were on hand, including Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, singing legend Pat Boone, comedian Bob Saget, actors William Allen Young and Shar Jackson from “Moesha,” Stephen Collins from “7th Heaven” and Kate Linder from “Young and the Restless.”
Local Thanksgiving Day dinners were held for more than 1,500 at Bell Shelter, Glendale Corps, Pasadena Corps and Redondo Beach Corps.
BY JENNI RAGLAND –
The Salvation Army in Ketchikan, Alaska saw a large increase in the number of individuals seeking assistance this Thanksgiving. Last year, 10 holiday food boxes were given to families in the community and another 80 individuals attended the pre-Thanksgiving Dinner. This year, Captain Martha Davey and her crew responded to 50 requests for food boxes and served 100 dinners on Thanksgiving eve. Larger donations were received from the local Elks Club, the Lutheran Brethren Association, Carr’s Safeway Grocery Store and the Coast Guard.
The increased need is the result of several factors. Over the past several years the fishing season has brought poor returns for commercial fishermen across Alaska. An increase in unemployment in the small community due to business closures or reorganization also played a significant role.
One single mother who recently relocated to Ketchikan to escape an abusive husband came to the Army looking for help in getting beds for her three children. When she left with a voucher for the beds and a large food basket in hand, she had tears in her eyes. She shared with Captain Davey that without the Army’s help, “my family wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving this year.”
Echoing this mother’s appreciation for the generosity of the community in supporting The Salvation Army Davey says, “Even though the need in our community was so significant this year, the community responded to that need by more than quadrupling their donations. The people in Ketchikan have truly shown that their hearts are as big as our great state.”
Del Oro Division
BY SARAH BENTLEY –
Bowling turkeys in Raley’s supermarket was quite a spectacle as members of the Chico community and media scored strikes to raise money for Thanksgiving baskets! Elsewhere in the Del Oro Division, in rather more conventional ways, hundreds of gracious volunteers and personnel spent the days before and the day of Thanksgiving making sure that individuals in need were well taken care of over the holiday.
Captain Bill Jaynes reports an entire family took a weeks vacation to prepare the meal for over 700 individuals in Stockton, CA. For the past several years, Mr. Pete Quijalvo (Thanksgiving Pete) and his family take a week to prepare the food prior to the serving of the meal. Jaynes stated, “Once again we watched as hundreds of people ambled in through our doors, away from the cold. When we watched them leave, we knew that something had happened in the heart of each visitor. Not only were they fed, they also understood that they do matter, they are not alone in the world and there are still people who care.”
Each corps in Del Oro spent time giving and meeting needs of those in their community. One thousand individuals enjoyed a feast prepared and served with love at the Sacramento shelter. From Roseville to Reno, from Petaluma to Paradise and places in between, you saw compassion in action, as individuals were able to share safe company and tasty nutritious meal.
We also spent time giving thanks corporately in a Del Oro united service of Thanksgiving at the Grass Valley Corps. Through song, prayer, the Word, and testimony we proclaimed thanks to God for his provision.
Hawaii and Pacific Islands Division
BY DANIEL DE CASTRO –
Letty waited with great anticipation along with several hundred people at nine in the morning. She was beaming with excitement as she went through the turnstile to be welcomed by Hawaii’s First Lady Vicky Cayetano. Letty had looked forward to this day as one of the highlights of her holiday season–the annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving dinner.
This year marked the 30th year anniversary of one of the most celebrated and largest Thanksgiv-ing dinners in Honolulu. Letty was one of more than 2,200 guests who came to enjoy a holiday turkey feast at the Neal Blaisdell Center. In all, over 1,000 pounds of turkey, 550 pounds of stuffing, 35 gallons of gravy, 100 gallon cans of vegetables, and 400 pounds of rice (before cooking), were consumed by satisfied and appreciative guests.
“It takes an enormous amount of time, energy and resources to make this annual event happen,” said Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Don Mowery. “Thanks to more than 800 volunteers and the generous donations and support of many businesses and partners in the community, we are able to make the beginning of the holiday season so much brighter for so many people in need in Honolulu.”
The guests were also entertained for three hours before and during dinner. Local celebrities and entertainers provided wonderful musical entertainment from the sweet strains of Hawaiian music and hula and the foot-stomping country and western fiddling music to inspirational and energizing gospel songs. All the local entertainers graciously donated their time to this worthy cause.
Sierra Del Mar Division
BY BRIAN PICKERING –
Thousands of homeless, underprivileged, working poor and lonely individuals and families enjoyed Thanksgiving meals throughout the Inland Empire, thanks to The Salvation Army and the many donors who gave through volunteering, in-kind gifts, and financial gifts.
The following illustrate how many people benefited from the meals in various communities:
At the Riverside Corps, 723 people were fed the day before Thanksgiving. Many volunteers assisted, including the Jr. ROTC groups from Riverside Poly High School, Arlington High School, and Rubidoux High School. The Riverside Corps brass ensemble also entertained the diners.
At The Salvation Army Circle of Hope Shelter, operated by the Riverside Corps, 174 were fed. For the ninth consecutive year, the San Bernardino Corps partnered with El Pollo Loco Restaurant, which cooked and helped serve the meal to 526 people. Hope Inspirators, an African American group from San Bernardino, entertained the diners with songs of praise. Four hundred forty-six were served meals at the Ontario Corps. At the Redlands Corps, 154 were served.
The Victor Valley Corps served 510 people between two serving sites (Percy Bakker Community Center in Hesperia and the James Woody Community Center in Apple Valley). Hot meals were also delivered to 35 local shut-ins, including a blind father with seven children.
BY BEE BRYANT –
The Intermountain Division served in many locations across the four states. In Colorado Springs, The Salvation Army was helped by the Fort Carson Army Base to serve over 5,000 people. Fifty to sixty soldiers from the base cooked and transported the food. “Without the help of the Soldiers of Fort Carson, we wouldn’t be able to serve the numbers we do at Thanksgiving,”said Major Steve Owen.
In Denver, over 1,400 people were served. At the Colorado Convention Center, the traditional homeless dinner served 400 people. Meals were served at several corps in the surrounding area. In addition, dinners were delivered to hundreds of seniors and shut-ins. According to Lt. Colonel Harold Brodin, “The areas of need are shifting. We are serving more poor on the edges of the metro area and fewer downtown.”