For the most part, the holidays are a time for family, friendship, eating and reflecting on the blessings one has reaped during the year. Those who are fortunate can gather around a table surrounded by their loved ones and share anecdotes, generating laughter and joy. But what about those who are less fortunate?
What about those who are alone, with an empty stomach and isolated from the holiday festivities. How can one lend a hand and help bring holiday cheer to those who need it? This holiday season, volunteering is definitely the way to go.
The Salvation Army hosted Thanksgiving Dinner at the Glendale Community Corps on 320 W. Windsor Road between noon and 2 p.m. The event occurred with several volunteers who helped serve turkey dinners complete with all the trimmings and handed out blankets and gifts, including bags of toiletries.
All of the food for this very special dinner was donated by the community, and the 25 turkeys served were cooked by the kitchen crew at the Glendale Hilton.
Depending on the need of each individual, volunteers at the event handed out blankets, hygiene kits, and sweaters, scarfs, and hats knitted by the local National Charity League.
Lending a hand in this noble cause was Kristine Vardanyan, a 20-year-old business major at GCC.
Vardanyan has been involved with the Salvation Army since middle school. For Vardanyan, it all started when she would go to the Community Corps facilities and play basketball with her cousin after school. As the years passed, Vardanyan found herself volunteering in various activities, most recently at an event benefiting hurricane victims.
Vardanyan walked up and down the aisles, serving hot plates and collecting them once emptied. Earlier that day Vardanyan helped make coffee and serve juice and cookies as the attendants waited to set up the dinner tables.
“I feel good about myself,” said Vardanyan. “I feel like I’ve dedicated time to a good cause.”
Helping the volunteers cater to the attendees’ diverse needs was volunteer coordinator Melynda Hooper. This was Hooper’s third Thanksgiving event and it did not bother her much that she was sacrificing family time for an event that according to her makes “you feel really well that you’ve served the community.”
The room was filled with families, people who did not want to spend the holiday alone and theose who were homeless.
“Many folks, unless they come to this program or to another program like it, don’t eat and don’t have a meal during the day,” said Captain James Sloan. “It’s a hard thing.”
GCC student Jeff Eastman was among those who attended the dinner and was pleased with the food as much as he was pleased with the volunteers at the event.
“The food is delicious and now I am well fed thanks to these people,” said Eastman.
Eastman believes that “volunteering is the way it should be,” and appreciated the help of the volunteers who took the time to lend a hand.
Adding a dose of entertainment were The Sunflowers, a musical duo comprised of Michael Fontaine and his wife Terri.
The Sunflowers began their relationship with the Salvation Army after performing at their annual Harvest Festival, an engagement which sparked an immediate bond between the organization and the happy duo.
“I think it’s wonderful that the Salvation Army has been able to supply a sort or normal environment,” said Fontaine. “It’s just a positive day and that’s a neat thing to be a part of.”
According to Captain Sloan, events like these are only possible through the help of volunteers who donate their time to a worthy cause.
“All of the volunteers are giving up their family time to do this,” said Captain Sloan. “It’s important for them to give something back to the community.”