Carol attends the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving Day feast in Shawnee every year and feels she’s being welcomed to a family dinner.
“I just ate a big plate full and pie…if you leave here hungry, it’s your own fault,” Carol said as she finished up Thursday. “I’ve been coming here for years.”
On top of the festive meal, Carol received a new coat and said being at the Salvation Army is like being part of a family.
With a strong spirit of volunteerism and all those partaking in a feast giving thanks, the Salvation Army annual Thanksgiving dinner provided food and fellowship for hundreds Thursday.
More than 100 volunteers were on hand as 53 turkeys were carved into about 224 pounds that filled hundreds of plates. That turkey, along with spoonfuls of dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and all the fixings greeted guests who might not have otherwise enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
In addition to meals served at the downtown Shawnee site, more than 450 meals were delivered into the community.
Of those, about 14 meals were taken to Carter Hall Juvenile Detention Center, while 400 dinners went to the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center to provide the prisoners a glimpse of home on the holiday. Several meals were delivered to police officers who were on duty Thursday, while others were delivered to residents in Shawnee.
Clifford Lehmann, a Salvation Army volunteer, spends every Thanksgiving helping out with the dinner.
While he’s been on many mission trips over the years, Thanksgiving in Shawnee is special.
“This is my mission in Shawnee,” Lehmann said, looking out at the many partaking in the traditional Thanksgiving feast. “I love to see all of this.”
Lehmann said with plenty of volunteers and a well-organized event, this year’s meal went well.
“It’s the best meal in town,” he said.
Longtime friends, LeZoe and Lula, were among those enjoying the food and fellowship.
“We’ve done this for seal years,” LeZoe said, adding it was a “wonderful meal.”
Lula said she’s thankful for her friends and her church while LeZoe is thankful for “salvation in Jesus Christ,” she said.
Volunteer Debbie Blue, who was serving up many of the fixings, said she was enjoying being able to give back to her community.
Ariel Wagoner, 14, also volunteered and was serving food.
“I like to come out and help,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - Stephanie Jarvis, who has volunteered the past eight years, works to give back to the Salvation Army after being helped herself many years ago.
She spent the morning helping prepare the potatoes, corn and other fixings, then cleaning up and doing dishes.
“I want to give back to the community — and help people that helped us,” she said.
For Diane Collins, a social worker with the Salvation Army, Thursday was her holiday to take the day off, but she chose to be at the Salvation Army.
“I’ve been here 15 years — this is my family,’ she said.
Salvation Army Lt. Philip Canning thanked the community for making the day happen. Without countless volunteers, donations for the meal and items of clothing, the day wouldn’t have been possible, he said.
“We just thank the community for making today happen and making a Happy Thanksgiving for many in Shawnee,” he said.